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The Man with No Face by Peter Turnbull
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The Man with No Face

by Peter Turnbull

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Ed McBain's 87th Precinct relocated to Glasgow? What could be more fun? I started this book -- about the boys and gurrrls of P Division tackling the murder of someone who's had his face shot off -- with enormously high expectations, and was immensely disappointed. The Ed McBain-homage element is assuredly there -- there's even a passage about the city being a woman -- but . . . Well, maybe the "but" is exemplified by the fact that Turnbull's passage about the city being a woman is actually funnier than the one in the McBain parody I put in Dave Langford's and my Earthdoom, and I'm absolutely certain Turnbull didn't mean it to be. McBain's wonderful skill was that often his books consisted more of his marvelous, endlessly entertaining digressions than they did plot; yes, of course we care about whodunnit, but the joy is in being with the boys and gals of the 87th as they chatter and badinage their way through events. Turnbull seems to have got the message that there should be lots of digressions and backflashes, but not that these should be witty and a delight in themselves. In a sense, then, his city-is-a-woman passage was a high point for me; elsewhere, though, every time the text moved into a particular selfconscious tone that heralded yet another boring-as-hell digression or backflash, I found myself gloomily leafing forward to check where this particular piece of dullery might come to an end.

Others may find exactly the opposite -- I believe Turnbull has many devotees -- but this is how it was for me. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
very good police procedural with as another reviewer mentioned a lot of flawed crooks and cops. ( )
  mahallett | Apr 23, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312192983, Hardcover)

The police procedural, when at its best, is the most satisfying and reassuring subgenre in the mystery field: the painstaking process of clues and questioning stills our primal fears about crime. But making the police as interesting as the procedure is difficult, and most books in this field fail at the human level: the coppers are either too dull to spend any time with or so flashy that they steal away our attention from the details.

That's why Scotland's Peter Turnbull has quietly become the best in the business. His detectives at P Division in Glasgow are a credible mixture of wisdom and humanity, doing the dog work and coming up with the occasional flashes of insight that open new doors. To slow down identification of the body, Turnbull's 11th book opens with the discovery of a man with his face blown off. But Sergeant Ray Sussock, bone weary and ready for retirement, recognizes the clothes as those given released prisoners after lengthy sentences. This narrows the search to men just let out, because nobody would keep that outfit any longer than necessary. A short scene, as Sussock retrieves some winter clothes of his own from the home of his ex-wife and openly gay son, fills out our understanding of the man. We then watch his pain deepen when a well-meaning senior officer sends the exhausted Sussock out on one mission too many.

Similar moments move the case along and give the detectives subtly distinct personalities. By pushing just the right ego buttons on an antiques dealer, one officer links the murdered man to a suspicious fire and insurance fraud. Another policeman, disturbed by his wife's odd behavior when he stays home later than usual one morning, gets a clue to her actions while meeting with his superior on another matter. Two detectives with adjacent desks profit from an overheard telephone request. Turnbull conducts his police officers like a good orchestra, and the result is a richly tuneful story. --Dick Adler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:53 -0400)

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A small-time crook is murdered in Glasgow and under his bed police find newspaper clippings of an abduction for which ransom was paid but the victim is still missing. Inspector Donoghue investigates.

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