Bred in the Bone is the stunning third novel in Brookmyre’s series featuring private investigator Jasmine Sharp and Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod. The novel is set in the grisly underworld of Glasgowa place where countless old scores are still waiting to be settled, and where everyone knows everyone else.
Private investigator Jasmine Sharp's father was murdered before she was born, and her mother went to self-sacrificing lengths in order to shield her from the world in which he moved. Since her mother's death, all she has been able to learn is his first nameand that only through a strange bond she has forged with the man who killed him: Glen Fallan. But when Fallan is arrested for the murder of a criminal her mother knew since childhood, Jasmine is finally forced to enter his domain: a place where violence is a way of life and vengeance spans generations.
Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod has one major Glaswegian gangster in the mortuary and another in the cells for killing him - which ought to be cause for celebration. Catherine is not smiling, however. From the moment she discovered a symbol daubed on the victim's head, she has understood that this case is far more dangerous than it appears on the surface, something that could threaten her family and end her career.
As one battles her demons and the other chases her ghosts, these two very different detectives will ultimately confront the secrets that have entangled both of their fates since before Jasmine was even born.
About the Author
Christopher Brookmyre has established himself as one of Britain's leading crime novelists since his award-winning debut novel Quite Ugly One Morning. He has worked as a journalist for several British newspapers and is the author of twelve novels, including Where the Bodies Are Buried , One Fine Day in The Middle of the Night , and Not The End of The World.
Read an Excerpt
'I'd best be getting a shift on,' Stevie announced, for perhaps the third time. 'There's none of us getting any younger.'
He glanced at the clock behind the gantry. The first time he'd said it had been around half ten. Now it was just after eleven, and he was half an hour older but no nearer the door. He'd have to watch that: he could be sitting here all day if he didn't get his arse in gear.
Sheila wouldn't allow that, though. She was opening for business in an hour. It was just that the seat felt that bit more comfy on this particular morning, the craic that bit more engaging. When he got to his feet the spell would be broken and he'd be impatient to get on with his day, but for now it was tempting to stay in the moment just a wee bit longer.
It looked like a lock-in, and it wasn't even noon. Nobody was drinking anything stronger than espresso, and they did this five or six days a week. It started off all business, Stevie's way of making sure he was up to speed on everybody's operations, but once the important stuff was out the way it could degenerate into blethers, everybody too comfy to get up, too full of breakfast to want to leave their seats. Some days the patter was better in the morning over teas and coffees than on late nights when everybody was half pished. At such times he was inclined to tarry, just sit in his favourite seat and take in what was around him rather than holding court; or maybe that truly was him holding court: everything playing out for his benefit and no pressing need to remind everybody who was in charge.
He had turned forty-nine that day. He didn't doubt Sheila had something planned for later, but this morning nobody had brought it up, and that suited him fine. Folk talked about taking stock on birthdays, but Stevie had seldom done so. In his experience, there were other watershed events in life that more naturally precipitated moments of reflection, though truth be told he was usually too busy living it to stop for photos. It was a sign of getting older that he occasionally found himself wishing he had taken a step back here and there in order to appreciate what he had. You always heard the older football players saying that: the young guys in the team don't appreciate what it is to be playing in a cup final, because they think it's always going to be cup finals.
He was sitting at his usual seat, his usual booth, up at the back wall of the Old Croft Brasserie, as it was known these days. It wasn't his name on the licence, and since POCA he had made damn sure there was no documentation identifying it as his property, but it was his place, and had been indisputably his place in many other ways long before he'd had the money to own it.
It was all about the food now. Even the cocktail bar where the snug used to be had fallen victim to the last re-fit, as it let them seat up to a dozen more covers. It was simple economics: they did okay with the scran, but the mark-up on the wine list made it look like the cocktail bar had been giving drink away. However, as Stevie surveyed the Old Croft from his favoured perspective, he could picture everything as it was when the place was still the Bleachers Vaults, and the only wines behind the gantry were Buckfast, El-D and Lanliq. In his mind he could still see the yellow walls, stained by decades of nicotine, the faded photos and press clippings in their cheap frames, the narrow range of generic spirits upside down above their optics, the peeling Formica and chipped wood panelling that coated the bar, and the frosted lavvy-window glass that let in the only natural light during the day but principally served to let passers-by know they should keep on passing by, whether they fancied a drink or not.
No matter how many changes it went through, there was nonetheless a permanence about being in this place, a way in which it could put him back in touch with how he'd felt at different stages in his life. He could still see the wee shaver he once was, fronting up at sixteen and hoping to get served; still see the cracked plaster on the ceiling as he lay bleeding on the lino, waiting for an ambulance the first time he got stabbed; still see the faces at the bar of boys long since dead: including some by his own hand or, more latterly, by his word. Times like this, he found himself missing even some of those guys, or at least missing the guys they once were, before they made themselves his enemies.
Stevie was one of Scotland's top gangsters. Had to be true: he'd read it in the Daily Record. Like there was a league table or something, or a chart. Up two places this week, it's Steeeeevie Fullerton! As for 'gangster', what kind of patter was that? The only folk who still used the term in this country were the sweetie wives in the press and wee daft boys kidding on they were darkies. Nobody who could reasonably be considered fitting of the term would dream of applying it to themselves.
Stevie knew a lot of criminals but precisely no gangsters. There were boys you worked with, boys you did business with and, very rarely, boys you trusted, but none of them had been in a gang since they were about fifteen: daft wee shavers out looking for mayhem, easy scores and, if they were really ambitious, their hole. Maybe the papers should name 'Scotland's top daft wee shaver', perhaps as part of a 'ones to watch' list of future gangster contenders.
He looked at the raggle-taggle assembly before him in the Old Croft Brasserie: Doke, Gerry, Haffa and himself. Stevie thought of the strange loyalties and improbable allegiances that had brought them all under one roof. To call this a gang would be to ignore greater levels of complexity than they had to cope with on an average shift at the UN.
Sheila gave his cheek a rub as she walked past, picking up his empty cup and saucer. It was part gesture of affection and part reminder that he hadn't shaved yet. He was planning to wait until he came back from the gym so he'd be smooth this afternoon and into the evening. It was growing back so fast lately that his five o'clock shadow tended to turn up at lunchtime. Used to be he liked having the old designer stubble; used to suit him, make him look just the distinguished side of rugged. These days, although he could dye the grey out of his hair he couldn't hide the salt-and-pepper when it came through on his jaw, which meant that if he missed a couple of shaves he just looked like a jakey. So did wearing the sports gear he used to favour. He kept himself in good shape, was never out the gym and arguably as fit now as when he'd been in his twenties, but the gear didn't work on him any more. Past forty, the only folk you saw wearing tracky bottoms outside the gym were bin-rakers and big fat heifers. As a result, it was suits all the way for him now. Bespoke ones, naturally, always the best, but though they made him look smart they couldn't make him look younger.
Why did it bother him so much, he wondered? It didn't seem to trouble Sheila that he was looking older, although maybe she just loved him too much to say. He knew for sure it didn't bother him that Sheila was getting older. Though he could see the changes in her from when they first got together, it always felt like the latest version was an improvement. He'd always liked the fact that she looked older than him: it was one of the things that attracted him in the first place. She had seemed like a woman who had seen plenty of the world and knew what she wanted as a result. That was why he must have been one of the few men of his means ever to leave a wife near-on a decade his junior for one three years older than him.
He gazed at her, heading for the kitchen to discuss tonight's menu with Angus, the chef. The place belonged to Stevie, and it was Angus's talents that had all the trendy types venturing out to the wilds of Croftbank, but Sheila ran the show, like she always had.
She was working behind the bar here when they first met, another reason this old place felt like a portal to the many ages of his life. His eye drifted to the store room next to the toilets, just past where the swing doors now granted access to the kitchen. That was where they used to sneak off to on her breaks, sometimes with her first husband Donny working through in the snug. He could picture it, feel it, smell the mixture of perfume, cigarettes and drink. Her on her knees, giving him a gobble like nobody ever had before. Christ, he was getting hard thinking about it. He could fair go shagging her right now, in the store, up against the shelves like old times. Better than old times. He fancied her more now than he ever had. The years were not diminishing Sheila, they were improving her; improving him too in so many ways, in the life he led, the things that were within his grasp, the freedoms that were now open to him. And yet, and yet ...
Look at this place. Haffa was in raconteur mode, recalling the time a team of Gallowhaugh boys had organised an ambush inside Stevie's first nightclub, Nokturn, and they turned the place into something out of a John Wayne movie, utterly wrecking the joint. 'Wild West George Street,' Haffa described it, eliciting a laugh all round as it did every time he used the phrase, which he did every bloody time he told the story.
The downside of that anecdote, always unspoken, was that it was also the night Jazz got slashed, which set in motion the chain of events leading to his death.
Before that, they'd been sharing bittersweet reminiscences about Glen Fallan, the old stories given a sharper edge these past couple of years since it emerged that big Single wasn't quite as unthreateningly dead as everybody had previously believed.
Stevie thought Gerry was havering when he said it had been more than twenty years ago, but when he did the sums it was right enough. No' real. It still felt like something that had happened recently: since the millennium, at least. Some folk cast a long shadow, and the period after they had departed always seemed shorter than the time you knew them, even if you had only known them for a fraction of the years they'd been gone. Glen Fallan: aye, there was a face Stevie missed, in spite of everything, though not from hanging round the Vaults. Not his style. Ever the lone gunman; often literally.
Stevie's cousin Doke then told the story about the Egan brothers going on the lam because they knew the polis were after them, and hiding out at their mammy's house two doors down. Aye, polis were never going to think of that. Fucking geniuses.
Doke was standing there in a two-grand suit, keys to an Aston Martin in one pocket, keys to a house in Thornton Bridge in the other, but like Gerry, like Haffa, like Stevie himself, it seemed all he wanted to talk about was old days, old faces, old streets.
Stevie had a Bentley Continental GT outside. He loved that machine like it was part of him: loved the growl of its engine, the gleam of its lines; loved what it said about him. It boasted more than six hundred brake horsepower, did nought to sixty in four seconds and its low-slung suspension was so smooth it handled like one of those lightcycles from Tron. But driving it had never given him a fraction of the excitement he had experienced behind the wheel of a stolen Escort XR3i when he was sixteen, his brother Nico riding shotgun, their cousins Doke and Jazz in the back, Stevie throwing the car around like it was the dodgems.
That thought was what finally gave him the nudge to get moving. It was one thing to miss your youth, but nostalgia could seduce you into thinking that the best of you lay in the past. To wallow in it was the same as staying here in this seat instead of going out to meet the day.
He climbed to his feet, giving Doke a phone gesture and receiving a subtle nod in response. He would be expecting him to call around teatime, and not to wish him happy birthday.
Stevie squinted against the late-morning sun as he opened the outside door. It was a cool and crisp November morning. Perfect for driving. He loved to see the metal glimmer of the Bentley's flanks in the sunlight, the solidity of the alloys picked out in a sharp contrast to the black rubber of the tyres. This was nicer than summer: the windscreen would stay clear without a thousand beasties kamikaze-diving it between the car wash and the health club.
He put the Bentley into drive and glided out towards the main road.
Stevie was aware that the older he got, the more he was vulnerable to thinking he had peaked and plateaued; that it was too late in the game for anything much to change, least of all the way he played it. There was a seductive instinct to stick instead of twist, to protect what he already held, and implicit within that was an acceptance that this was as good as he could expect it to get, as high as he could reasonably aspire to climb.
It was the death of Flash Frankie Callahan that had most fuelled this insecurity. A powerful adversary suddenly taken out of the picture, a supply line cut off, a very big slice of the market up for grabs: it should have been the start of a new era. Instead, Stevie had been squeezed in the aftermath, losing market share and watching, helpless, as someone else took over Frankie's operations.
The part of him that was still young and hungry was able to read a lesson in it, though. That it was Tony McGill who had been the phoenix from Frankie's ashes should have been a lesson to everybody.
Tony had a criminal career going all the way back to the fifties, running rackets and smuggling operations before anybody in Glasgow had ever had their first jag of brown or their first sniff of cocaine. Tony had watched as the logistics, the economics, the very nature of the game altered. He was a T-Rex caught in the teeth of a snowstorm at the onset of the Ice Age, an apex predator rendered suddenly vulnerable by a changing world. Different breeds had evolved to overtake him: breeds such as Stevie, once upon a time, and inevitably the once-mighty T-Rex was felled.
Tony was past sixty when he got out of prison a few years back, and after serving as long as he did, he must have stepped through the gates into a world he barely recognised. Nonetheless, Tony hadn't considered himself too long in the tooth to get back in the game, or thought that his most prosperous years were behind him. He had still run a decent-sized show from inside, despite the limitations of that chubby wee fanny Tony Junior.
Stevie had often heard boys described as 'working for Tony McGill' when they had never come within fifty miles of where the man was securely locked up, and none of them meant that they were working for Teej, as his arsehole son was known.
They said beware the vengeance of a patient man. They also said the best revenge was living well. Tony could thus consider himself thoroughly avenged. After Flash Frankie went up in flames, it was Tony who took possession of a massive misplaced shipment of brown, before stepping in to replace Frankie and his crew as the Scottish outlet for a seriously major supply line. Not bad for a guy who used to bask in the acclaim of being 'the man who kept the drugs out of Gallowhaugh'.
It was an astonishing turnaround in fortunes, only a few years after his release from jail. Stevie wasn't sure how becoming Glasgow's primary heroin conduit sat with his parole conditions, but didn't imagine Tony lost any sleep over it.
Tony had learned from past mistakes. He had adapted, proven an old dog could learn some new tricks. Nonetheless, when you analysed his success, you could see he was like one of those veteran football managers who replicated their success at each club by signing the same type of player and playing the same system. There were adaptations, sure, but at a fundamental level they always went with what they knew.
In Tony's case, the linchpins of his strategy were bent polis. They had made him bombproof once upon a time, and they had played their part in putting him back on the map in jig time once his stretch was done.
However, those veteran managers could eventually get found out. They became too reliant on the tried-and-tested formula, and their recipe for success became their weakness. Something that predictable would eventually expose a vulnerability if you watched and waited long enough, though only if you had the means to exploit it.
Stevie hadn't, until now.
He might have turned forty-nine today, but his birthday present had come early. Out of nowhere he'd been offered precisely what he needed to change the game in this city. And like all the best deals, the vendor didn't have a clue as to the true value of what he was selling.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Bred In The Bone"
Copyright © 2013 Christopher Brookmyre.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
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