Regular readers of DSD might have caught my handle here before - thanks to Jay and Russel (cheers lads)- but for those of you more used to reading about the antics of my booze-soaked 'sleuth' (using the term cautiously, as he's a far better alky than a PI) Gus Dury, then my latest book will, likely as not, leave you as confused and addled, as, er, Gus.
TRUTH LIES BLEEDING is a police procedural. Yes, 'fuck-me-drunk' as Gus might say. I never thought I'd see the day myself. It's what my publishers describe as a move away from my 'moody noir'. And they're not wrong.
I was never that much of a fan of the police procedural - outside of Derek Raymond's Factory novels (I know, not typical of the form) and some of the better examples from the Scottish big hitters - but for some reason, some urge or other, I found myself taking to the idea of giving it a go.
I have a good mate in Edinburgh who is always one of my first readers and he persuaded me, just about, that I'd been giving Lothian and Borders finest a hard time in the Dury novels. I couldn't see it; argued blind I wasn't, but the seed was sewn.
In a previous life I was a hack reporter: I reviewed nightclubs; covered courts and had contacts on the force. Some of the tales were mind-boggling ... utterly unpublishable, though. When I look back now, I think I can safely say that I was storing up that police info'. Who was it said that nothing in a writer's life was wasted ...
But as far as protagonists go, they're polar opposites.
If Dury was a result of brushing shoulders with camel-coated nightclub bosses putting heavy threats out for 'favourable reviews', then Detective Inspector Rob Brennan came from the opposite side of the tracks.
Rob is no Gus.
Where Gus is perpetually three-sheets to the wind, Rob is almost T-total. My new DI is a family man; he has a teenage daughter and another on the way - don't think that makes him a square-peg, though - the one on the way is to his mistress, the force psychologist.
Rob is recently back from psych' leave, still reeling from the senseless killing of his only brother - something which he seems to think he could have presented if he was a better copper, a better man - when he is asked to investigate the brutal killing and dismembering of a young girl, roughly the same age as his own daughter.
Rob digs into the case and discovers the victim, who turned up in an Edinburgh dumpster, had recently given birth herself. If that doesn't shock him enough, his fragile frame of mind is given a further jolt when it is evident no-one knows where the child is.
As a media-frenzy gets underway, Rob tracks down the victim's parents to a sleepy Scottish town - the mystery of what she was doing in Edinburgh now becomes even more complicated as an ambitious father and his ties to a convicted paedophile come into play.
It's not a story for the faint-hearted, I have to say.
In my Gus Dury series I delved into hardcore criminality with people-smuggling and teenage prostitution, dog-fighting and gang wars. But in TRUTH LIES BLEEDING I got into even darker territory: the international sale of infants to paedophile rings.
Revealing any more of the book's twists and turns at this stage will only spoil it for those of you who might want to pick up a copy, so I'll leave it at that. Oh, but I should probably add that's it's a bit grislier than you'll be used to from me ... you've been warned!