The Heretic

Highbridge Audio. (Duncan McCormack, Bk. 2). Mar. 2022. 15:45 hrs. ISBN 9781684578818. $24.99. M
McIlvanney brilliantly re-creates gritty 1970s Glasgow in this sequel to his highly regarded The Quaker. After sending a corrupt Glasgow police officer to prison, Detective Duncan McCormack spent three years in London and has now returned home. Contending with suspicion and doubt from his colleagues, McCormack and his team are tasked with investigating a horrific tenement fire that killed four, including a mother and child. Suspects are members of rival gangs, making everyone afraid to give evidence. Narrator Angus King adeptly portrays McCormack as a tough, no-holds-barred detective who is also fair and compassionate. King’s portrayal of other team members is equally skillful, including pluckily rendered Detective Nichol, who prevails despite the chauvinism she encounters, both on and off the force. Police and political corruption abound; Irish and Scottish ex-military are still fighting old battles; and McCormack’s life as a gay man (something he must hide from public view, as sex between men is still illegal in 1970s Scotland) is compelling.
VERDICT Fascinating details about the detectives’ personal lives, a vibrant city atmosphere, class differences, and the many conversations that always include the listener make for an affecting listening experience.
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