Bitter Legacy By Dal Maclean (2017). A review by John Cook


Bitter Legacy

The Scots are at it again. Over the years, I have read a number of gay detective stories especially by Joseph Hanse, Grant Michaels and Mark Richard Zubro. However, my favourite remains Jack Dickson with his gritty Scots tales and some (occasionally) kinky sex. I have neglected the genre of late but have been welcomed back by an amazing (first effort!) offering by Scots female author Dal Maclean. (I found her website and acknowledgements rather female oriented but should keep my suppositions to myself). If this is a start only and there is more to come of a similar standard, she has my attention.


No book is perfect and while very well-written and entertaining, there are faults here. Like many, it could have been a bit shorter, some of the internal musings border on longueurs and some characters were a little pale (oddly enough the female detective boss, Ingham). Also, though perhaps appropriate, the gay characters are largely beauty contest winners with a similar emphasis on clothes and home décor.


James (or Jamie), the central detective character is quite interesting with his background of wealth and privilege being self-denied as he finds his new career and homosexual self as a university educated accelerated promotion Detective Sergeant. Once again, there are extremes including his dogged devotion to his Police duties, his gut instincts and his eagle eye for detail. His detective side-kick the usually wise and experienced Scot, Scrivenour, is neatly drawn and I would like to have heard more of him.


There are a number of other subsidiary characters and while tending to be ‘of a type’, they are largely convincing and well set in context.


There is sex with some quite lengthy descriptive passages with believable behaviour and detail without offending most adult taste, though it could be testing for some. Once again, things are always rather too wonderful and amazing for my taste.


The character of James is well if exhaustively drawn and most of his behaviours and motivations are acceptably believable enough and they tie in well with the overarching theme of behavioural legacies. However, the constant self-analysis and doubtings could be a little irritating for some readers.


I shouldn’t complain too much because this was a very good read which I think has extended the gay detective genre somewhat and could be a good introduction for many. From about half-way in, it became quite the page-turner.



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