Lead Review

  • Book: In Harm’s Way
  • Location: Glasgow, Leadhills
  • Author: Owen Mullen

Review Author: tripfiction



One sibling’s trauma and a whole family in crisis.

Mackenzie and Derek Crawford have been together for a good decade. From the outside they have a great marriage, with enough wealth to impress everyone. Derek, who is significantly older than Mackenzie, owns a car dealership which employs well over 300 people. But despite the trappings of the good life, it is evident that Mackenzie is spiralling into alcoholism. There are subtle indications that they have a coercive relationship and Derek has the moniker “Mr Always-Got-To-Be-Right”.

A significant blow-up at the birthday party of her sister Adele leaves the family dumbfounded and reeling and Mackenzie’s claims of being plagued by a stalker are roundly dismissed as the fantasy of an alcoholic. Derek lets slip that he knows she has, in fact, taken a lover. And naturally he largely garners the support of the family not only for dealing with his alcoholic wife but also for having to contend with her philandering.

Shortly after the birthday celebration, Mackenzie disappears. It seems she may have disappeared of her own accord, and yet……

The writing and build-up all combine to make the storyline very readable and gripping. Family dynamics are explored in the face of a terrifying ordeal. About three quarters of the way through, the denouement starts and there is a car chase. It is at this point that the reader has to take a rather large leap of faith. One of the characters sets off in hot pursuit of someone, who he knows can lead him to Mackenzie. Yet the pursuer only briefly once saw his target in the street and just happens to spot him driving a car. The pursuer sets off after him.with brother-in-law Gavin joining in. I found myself saying ‘come on… really?’. However, the author does pull the strands together eventually and offers an explanation much later, but I did feel that the last quarter of the book felt fractured and almost as though it was written by a very different hand from the first three quarters of the text. From a well measured and well constructed start the story hares off towards its ending like an enthusiastic puppy, struggling to find its natural path.

Location is Scotland and moves from the clearly defined streets of Glasgow – Battlefield Avenue, the Lorne Hotel, Sauchiehall Street and more… to the Lowther Hills. If you know the area you will be able to visualise the setting.

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