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    I would like to thank Netgalley and Black & White Publishing for a review copy of Cause of Death, a police procedural set in Edinburgh feature DCI Grace Macallan. Grace spent many years successfully working for Special Branch in Northern Ireland until an incident forced her out and she has transferred to the Lothian & Borders service. Unsure of her welcome she is delighted to be made second in command of the newly established major crime team under Superintendent John O'Connor. Their first cases are a baptism of fire, catching a violent gang who are robbing immigrant restaurateurs and a man who is battering prostitutes. I thoroughly enjoyed Cause of Death although my enjoyment was slightly marred by advance knowledge of the plot as I had already read the novel in its previous incarnation under the title Noble Cause, which I was unaware of when I first picked it up. Nevertheless it is a good read. Without any boring detail it provides a good insight into police thinking and procedure, obviously including the politics. The plot is well thought out and compulsive with some good twists at the end. Grace Macallan is an excellent protagonist, smart, capable, likeable and hurting. There are flashback scenes to her time in Northern Ireland which illustrate her character and courage - it would be easy to say she was hard done to, as she was, but it's more an object lesson in self interest and the way of the world. Fortunately this is not overegged, which was my main complaint about the previous version. I won't say she shrugs it off but she immerses herself in her current investigations showing herself to be more than capable. I like the relationships between the characters which are complicated and come down to personalities. The 3 main characters, Grace, John O'Connor and their sergeant Mick Harkins are all well drawn, flawed but essentially good. They are realistic, likeable and easy to spend time with. In fact, I think that these relationships are the real strength of the novel. Cause of Death is a good read and I'm already looking forward to the sequel so I have no hesitation in recommending it.
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