Well plotted and well written, this is another cracking story in the DSI Lorimer series.

Before the Storm is the latest book in Alex Gray’s DSI Lorimer series. I’ve been reading these books for years and followed Lorimer through various career transitions to his current position as head of the Major Incident Team in Police Scotland.

As a character, Lorimer reminds me a bit of Donna Leon’s Inspector Guido Brunetti, although he’s based in Glasgow rather than Venice. But like Brunetti, Lorimer is thoughtful, perceptive and dogged in his determination to reach the truth.

In this story we meet a new police character – Inspector Daniel Kohi, who has arrived in Glasgow as an immigrant, having been forced to flee his home in Zimbabwe after his family was killed.

On his first day in the city, Kohi sees a man in an alleyway carrying a bloodstained knife. His police instincts are aroused but he knows no-one, so doesn’t know who to tell. Fearing that, in any case, he wouldn’t be believed, Kohi starts to watch the alleyway to see if he can work out what has happened.

At the same time, Lorimer is engrossed in a terrorism investigation. There have been tip-offs about a terrorist attack in the city but the police don’t know who they are looking for or what the target might be. Their investigations are being hampered because officers working undercover have had their identities exposed in the press, and suspicions of a police ‘mole’ are rife.

A lucky chance introduces Lorimer to Daniel Kohi and they end up working with each other, officially and unofficially on both cases. And as the pressure on the police investigation ramps up, Kohi becomes a key player, working undercover and off-the-books to infiltrate the terrorist cell. Of course both cases are resolved successfully and although the chance meeting of the two men is a rather obvious development, it’s one that Gray handles well and it doesn’t feel as contrived as it sounds here.

These novels always have meaty plots and are well-worked police procedurals, but for me it’s the characters that make them special. Gray’s presentation of her heroes and villains is muted, but they always seem entirely real. You feel you are reading about people you could quite easily meet.

If you’re looking for a story with lots of excitement and unexpected plot twists this may not be your cup of tea. But if you like a mystery that’s solved in a measured and interesting way, with the tension building slowly, give the Lorimer series a try. I give this 4+ Stars.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo

P.S. Oundle Crime is meeting again! We’re pleased for anyone to join us because we don’t have a set reading list. So, if you’d like to meet with some other crime fiction buffs and chat about books and authors, why not drop in? Email join@friendsofoundlelibrary.org.uk and we’ll send you the details of our next get-together.