I looked at my shelf of priority unread books, and I looked at my e-reader. I wanted great entertainment intelligently but lightly written. I chose Last Will by William McIntyre. I chose correctly.
I stumbled at first, partly because the way in which the series is marketed is a bit confusing (there is the Best Defence series which seems different from the Robbie Munro series although all of the titles feature Robbie Munro). We have featured Good News Bad News but Last Will precedes it. I didn’t know that at first, so I was a bit confused about who was who in particular concerning Robbie Munro’s domestic arrangements: it wouldn’t normally be a problem but this is a book which is to a great extent about Robbie Munro’s domestic arrangements. In the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter: there is not a huge amount of cross-over between the novels and they stand apart just fine.
What I mean by intelligently but lightly written is this: you don’t come away from a Robbie Munro thriller wanting to change the world or angry with injustice. These books don’t give voice to the most vulnerable in society. They give voice to a somewhat ambiguous defence lawyer: it’s a pleasant voice, its owner given to sharp and self-deprecating quips. So we learn why you should shut up when interrogated and we get a sense of the underfunding of legal aid and of tricks of the trade and the friction between law and polis. Munro is appealing, quick-thinking, underhand and driven. He employs a style of narration that is in the perfect tense but which fits more neatly with the present. It’s dry and witty and I like it when he uses his instincts and they are wrong. I particularly enjoy his interactions with police chief Oglivie and fashion fixer Zander: those with care worker Vikki work less well as her romantic potential seems a little crow-barred in.
I don’t have a sense – as I did in Good News Bad News – that Munro is dishonest but perhaps that’s a measure of the B plot: Munro’s attempt to gain custody of his four year-old daughter the existence of whom he was previously unaware. The A plot lets us into the glamorous world of high fashion and its seedy side-effects of drug supply. There’s a visit to a women’s refuge too, but we see all these episodes through Munro’s eyes and the information supplied applies to the case rather than society at large.
Like Good News Bad News there’s a sense of energy and momentum that is highly appealing and I have to stop every now and again just to check that the latest twist hasn’t thrown me off the ride and left me beached.
Last Will is great reading: you will be relaxed but engaged.
Thanks to Sandstone Press for the review copy.