The opening book, Driftnet, in the now thirteen-book-long thriller series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod, we meet her at the scene of a sexually brutal crime, where the teenage male victim looks so like Rhona, she thinks he may be the son she gave up for adoption 17 years before. Thus the personal and the professional lives of Rhona MacLeod collide and her desire to find the killer, always strong, becomes personal.
A forensic scientist is first on the murder scene, is the first mourner, the first cataloguer of the horror, the first to analysis the context of the crime. Rhona sits with the victim to write up her notes, because no one else wants to be in that forensic tent, and it allows her to pay her respects to the dead. At the front of her notebook is the famous Gladstone quote:
Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.
Rhona is a forensic scientist, but she is also a woman, with a personal life that encircles her work. Facing violent death in her everyday existence, she also embraces life to its fullest and her love life is as varied and challenging as her work – her occasional live in lover Irishman and saxophonist Sean Maguire, urban warrior Detective Sergeant Michael McNab, and Orcadian psychologist Professor Magnus Pirie. All vie for her attention. All are only permitted to be part of her private life on Rhona’s terms.
Crime books are not about the crime, but about the characters. That’s why people come back to a series again and again, whether it’s in the form of a book or a TV series. They believe in these characters and want to be with them. I have never described what Rhona MacLeod looks like only what she does. Readers picture their own Rhona MacLeod, and I’ve been at events where members of the audience will argue about her features, but never about her character. They know the real Rhona, her strengths, her frailties, her determination, her professionalism.
In the latest book Sins of the Dead, Rhona must face the ultimate challenge - a confrontation between her professional knowledge and her personal existence. A killer is stalking Dr Rhona MacLeod, challenging her forensic knowledge with his kills – and even worse than that – she, in her desire to inform and educate the public about her work –may have been his teacher.
Sins of the Dead
While illegally street racing in the underground tunnels of Glasgow, four female Harley-Davidson riders make a horrifying discovery: a dead man left in the darkness, hands together on his chest, beside him the ritual red wine and broken bread, symbolic of the ancient practice of sin-eating.
Called to the scene, Rhona is perplexed by the ambiguity of the forensic evidence. When another body is found near her own flat, laid out in a similar manner, she fears a forensically aware killer stalks the city - and she may have taught him his trade.