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The Good Son (J. McNee Series #1)

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"THE GOOD SON is the most exciting, and gripping, Scottish crime fiction debut of recent years. Stylish and atmospheric, it marks the arrival of a exceptional talent." —John Connolly

“McLean has all the merits of this brilliant writer [Jean-Patrick Manchette] with the added bonus of a Scottish sense of wit that is like no other.” —Ken Bruen

"Scottish crime fiction is entering a new era and Russel McLean is at ...

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The Good Son (J. McNee Series #1)

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"THE GOOD SON is the most exciting, and gripping, Scottish crime fiction debut of recent years. Stylish and atmospheric, it marks the arrival of a exceptional talent." —John Connolly

“McLean has all the merits of this brilliant writer [Jean-Patrick Manchette] with the added bonus of a Scottish sense of wit that is like no other.” —Ken Bruen

"Scottish crime fiction is entering a new era and Russel McLean is at the vanguard. A thrilling new writer, a brilliant debut...The Good Son is very good indeed." —Tony Black

Recipient of widespread praise for his award-winning crime short stories, Russel McLean’s full-length debut has been characterized by key crime authors and critics alike as the emergence of a major talent.

There is something rotten behind the apparent sucide of Daniel Robertson and it’s about to come bursting into the life of J. McNee, a Scottish private investigator with a near-crushing level of personal baggage. James Robertson, a local farmer, finds his estranged brother’s corpse hanging from a tree. The police claim suicide. But McNee is about to uncover the disturbing truth behind the death. With a pair of vicious London thugs on the move in the Scottish countryside, it’s only a matter of time before people start dying. As the body count rises, McNee finds himself on a collision course with his own demons and an increasing array of brutal killers in a violent, bloody showdown that threatens to leave none involved alive. Plumbing the depths of love, loss, betrayal, and one broken man’s attempt to come to terms with his past, The Good Son successfully blends the classic style of the gumshoe era with the outer edges of modern noir.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In McLean's uneven debut, PI J. McNee, a former Dundee cop, still bears the physical and emotional scars from the car accident that killed his fiancée nine months earlier. When a local farmer, James Robertson, discovers the body of his estranged brother, Daniel, an apparent suicide, McNee reluctantly takes the case. Even though the pair hadn't spoken in 30 years, James can't believe Daniel killed himself. As McNee starts digging, he discovers that Daniel worked as a heavy for Gordon Egg, an ex-gangster turned club owner in London's seedy Soho district. When a woman claiming to know Daniel arrives in Dundee, followed by two vicious thugs with ties to Egg's empire, McNee realizes he may have stepped into something bigger than he can handle. McLean relies too heavily on American noir clichés—the tortured investigator, lost loves, crime bosses and their femme fatales—and never puts his distinctive stamp on the formula, despite the moody Scottish setting. (Dec.)
Library Journal
J. McNee, a police detective-turned-private investigator, is just existing in Dundee, Scotland, as he avoids the truth about his wife's fatal car crash for which her family blames him. When a local farmer asks him to determine why his estranged brother hanged himself, McNee goes up against his former mates in the force and must come to grips with his own life. In this impressive first novel, McNee is a down-and-out failure in the mold of Ken Bruen's sleuths, but he overcomes the case's complexities, the lack of respect for his profession, and his own personal hang-ups to triumph in the end. VERDICT With a great blurb from John Connolly, this newest addition to the Scottish noir tradition will appeal to fans of Ian Rankin and Stuart McBride as well as readers of Jim Kelly. [Library marketing campaign.]
Kirkus Reviews
Bodies pile up as a Scottish PI helps a local farmer learn why his long-estranged brother killed himself. Daniel Robertson was only 16 when he left St. Michaels, a small village outside Dundee, after quarreling with his father. More than two decades later, his brother James finds his body hanging from a tree on the family's farm. To fill in the gaps in Daniel's life, James turns to an ex-cop named McNee, who's been working as a private eye since the car crash that claimed the life of his fiancee Elaine Barrow left him unfit for police service. Still grappling with his loss and the anger of Elaine's family, McNee traces Daniel to London's East End, where he worked for gangster Gordon Egg. Soon Gordon's wife Kat is up in Scotland, asking McNee about Daniel, and just that quick she's found dead in a flat owned by local thug David Burns. Egg's yeggs Ayer and Liman shoot up McNee's office, sending his assistant to intensive care with a stomach wound, but McNee just can't bring himself to level with local DI Lindsay, who showed him scant sympathy after Elaine's death. It's not until foul-mouthed thugs go after Burns, killing his two bodyguards and beating him within an inch of his life, that McNee finally finds an ally he can trust in his fight against the London wide boys. Like McNee's car, McLean's debut hurtles inexorably toward a terrifying cataclysm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312576684
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/8/2009
  • Series: J. McNee Series , #1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

RUSSEL MCLEAN writes for Crime Spree Magazine, The Big Thrill, At Central Booking and Crime Scene Scotland. His short fiction has been published in crime magazines in both US and the UK.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Stellar Debut

    "I've already shot a man this evening, so what's the difference now? Like smoking, it gets easier after the first one, right?" - J. McNee

    Dundee, Scotland based J. McNee (full first name never given) is not at a good place in his life when we meet him in author Russel D. McLean's debut novel, The Good Son. Formerly on the Dundee police force, McNee was forced into early retirement following a car crash that killed his fiancée and left him physically disabled and psychologically crippled.

    Now working as a private investigator, McNee receives a visit from local farmer James Robertson whose estranged brother, Daniel, was found hanging from a tree on the family's farm. Though the police have it down as suicide, James is convinced his brother did not kill himself and hires McNee to investigate what Daniel had been up to during the 30 years since James last saw him.

    In addition to putting him at odds with his former colleagues on the police force, McNee's investigation opens up a Pandora's box of local thugs, London gangsters and a mysterious woman with connections to both, as a visit to London reveals that Daniel had been working for one of that city's most notorious gangsters, Gordon Egg.

    Not pleased with either Daniel's unexplained disappearance from London, with a substantial sum of Egg's money, or McNee's visit inquiring about him, Egg sends two of his thugs to Dundee to get to the bottom of things. And that's when things go seriously sideways, as Egg's thugs, Ayer and Liman, cut a bloody path through Dundee in their efforts to retrieve the missing money.

    Convinced that James Robertson knows where the money is, and that he told McNee, Ayer and Liman pay a visit to McNee's office that results in him being beaten and his office assistant shot. Already burdened with almost incapacitating guilt over his fiancée's death, the shooting of his friend pushes McNee over the edge, to the point he's determined to stop Ayer and Liman no matter the cost. and McNee is willing to pay quite a high price.

    In McNee, author McLean has done a spectacular job of portraying a man in the seemingly contradictory position of being incapacitated by apathy for his own life, yet driven by guilt over the loss of his fiancée's. The blunt, edgy dialogue and outbursts of pull no punches violence in The Good Son bring to mind the hard-boiled writing of the legendary Ken Bruen, and I believe it's a well-deserved comparison. But make no mistake about it, McLean has demonstrated with his debut offering that he has a fresh, unique voice all his own. The Good Son is very, very good indeed.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    hardboiled urban detective thriler

    Farmer James Robertson finds his brother Daniel hanging from a tree. Although the siblings were estranged for decades when Daniel left home at sixteen after an argument with their father, James rejects the official opinion that Daniel committed suicide. Instead he hires former Dundee police officer J. McNee, who is still recovering from a car accident that severely injured him and killed his fiancée.

    McNee quickly uncovers that the deceased worked as a thug for former gangster Gordon Egg, who owns a London nightclub. Meanwhile Kat from London arrives insisting she was close to Daniel while two more bad eggs follow her. McNee fears he is in over his head as a hardboiled detective battling crime kings because his throbbing leg keeps telling him.

    Taking the injured hardboiled urban American detective to Dundee makes for an engaging refreshing tale though the lead character never quite feels like he is from Scotland rather than the United States. Still his inquiry, aching leg and all, makes for a fun tale as the cops tell him to stay out, the thugs warn him to stay out, and his common sense pleads with him to stay out; three strokes and he stays in. Fans will enjoy McNee as an avenger trying to survive the case of the dead farmer's brother.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted June 20, 2010

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    Posted May 24, 2011

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