DI Clare Mackay is back! In Plain Sight is as rigorously crafted as her first St Andrews police investigation. Thorough, tense and totally authentic, author Marion Todd has triumphed again.
‘The magnitude of the task facing her was not lost on Clare. A missing person was bad enough but a missing baby…’
As the midday sun glints off the North Sea, the Sunday fun run looks set to get off without any false starts. But with half as many environmental protestors as runners lying across the beach track ahead, the perfect diversion exists for a terrible crime to take place. A young baby is taken from her pram. Yet despite the vast number of runners and spectators on the sand dunes, witnesses for the abduction are few and far between. To further complicate proceedings, single-toothed, smiling baby Abi has a congenital defective heart and requires digoxin twice daily. DI Clare Mackay and her team have their work cut out to find the baby before time runs out.
‘She looked at the house and thought of the couple inside, almost certainly distraught. Her chest felt as if there was a lead weight pressing on it. The worst part of the job by miles.’
Upon meeting Abi’s parents Lisa and Kevin, DI Mackay starts to build a picture. In addition to the young couple who seemingly have all that money can buy, a line of decidedly dodgy suspects is brought into the fold. From a charmless, brawny barman, sweeping away questions with a wipe of his filthy cloth to the crumpled tissues dabbing Lisa’s swollen eyes, the richness of characters make In Plain Sight entirely believable. Is this crime entirely random or is something more sinister happening under the St Andrews community nose?
Knowing the area well, author Marion has created a strong sense of place. Detail is her forté – describing table lamps like sentries, a bleached name card next to an illuminated doorbell, furtive glances – she surveys everything swiftly through Clare’s razor-sharp gaze. In a case of such magnitude, this level of detail is entirely necessary and adds believability.
‘She had to get things clear in her head. This operation – finding Abi – all these officers. She couldn’t afford to blow it.’
As with See Them Run, Clare’s latest case has dark undertones. Due to its nature of finding a missing infant, support has been drafted in from other stations. The DCI making demands this time around is Tony McAvettie. With the Superintendent role in his sights, he wields his power to pressurise Clare. Subsequently, in a man’s world, she must hold her own.
Padding through her home, Daisy Cottage, with its broken heating system, devouring late night pizza, discarding clothes on the floor, our protagonist Clare is entirely relatable. But two of the things we love most about Clare are her ability to stand her ground whilst remaining compassionate. Unlike DIs in other series who appear hard-hitting and unreachable, Clare holds genuine concern. Her sister Jude, her bull terrier Benjy, her partner Geoffrey, her team and their families all matter to her. A strong female lead, she’s exactly who you want fighting your corner.
‘There were more sirens now. Clare found it almost unbearable, listening to the chase from fifteen miles away.’
Moving at such speed, the series brings deep appreciation for the police and emergency services. Such pace requires a considerable amount of research and, just as with Marion’s debut, See Them Run, once again she does not disappoint. Alluding to mobile phone trackers, social media monitoring systems, the Home Office database and even the Child Rescue Alert procedure, Marion’s research is impeccable and add weight to the story. Similarly the Incident Room odour of Pot Noodles and sweaty bodies coupled with the glare of its artificial light easily conjure images.
Moreover, the car scenes with DS Chris are police partnership gold. Using the car as a catalyst to literally drive the action, these moments are pertinent to the case and use of dialogue team-tags answers to clues.
It is no surprise to us that this book is Harrogate International Festival’s Book of the Month in its first month of release. In Plain Sight is a phenomenal follow-up to See Them Run and every page earns its place. Just two books in, we realise each case DI Clare Mackay and her team tackle are now must haves and hope this series runs for some considerable time to come.