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The Good Son Hardcover – December 8, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312576684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312576684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,525,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In McLean's uneven debut, PI J. McNee, a former Dundee cop, still bears the physical and emotional scars from the car accident that killed his fiancée nine months earlier. When a local farmer, James Robertson, discovers the body of his estranged brother, Daniel, an apparent suicide, McNee reluctantly takes the case. Even though the pair hadn't spoken in 30 years, James can't believe Daniel killed himself. As McNee starts digging, he discovers that Daniel worked as a heavy for Gordon Egg, an ex-gangster turned club owner in London's seedy Soho district. When a woman claiming to know Daniel arrives in Dundee, followed by two vicious thugs with ties to Egg's empire, McNee realizes he may have stepped into something bigger than he can handle. McLean relies too heavily on American noir clichés—the tortured investigator, lost loves, crime bosses and their femme fatales—and never puts his distinctive stamp on the formula, despite the moody Scottish setting. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Private investigator J. McNee is hired by a Scots farmer to investigate how his estranged brother lived his life in London. The farmer wants to understand why his brother returned to Dundee to commit suicide. McNee learns that the dead man was an enforcer for Gordon Egg, a notorious London criminal; his inquiries quickly bring Egg’s wife to McNee’s office, followed by a pair of sociopathic hard cases. Egg’s wife ends up brutally murdered, and McNee and his client may be next. At first, McNee seems a throwback to the classic American lone-wolf PI, alone but self-sufficient, at odds with the local cops, and utterly determined to follow his PI ethos, regardless of risk. But as the story proceeds, McNee’s personal demons—he mourns his late girlfriend and has shut himself off from friends—are winning the war for his stability and soul. The Dundee locale, some mordant Scots wit, and the plausibly clumsy showdown with the sociopaths in an ancient graveyard make this a promising debut. --Thomas Gaughan

More About the Author

"An exceptional talent" - - John Connolly

Russel D McLean is the author of The Good Son and The Lost Sister, featuring Scots PI, J McNee.

McLean's short stories have been published in a variety of markets including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and the 2007 anthology Expletive Deleted, where 'Pedro Paul' was singled out by Publisher's Weekly as "awesomely dark".

He has previously run the highly regarded noir fiction ezine Crime Scene Scotland, and still reviews crime novels both in print and online (The revamped Crime Scene Scotland review and interview hub can be found at www.crimescenescotlandreviews.blogspot.com) and writes a regular column for the International Thriller Writer's website (www.thrillerwriters.org). In addition he regularly blogs with the Do Some Damage crew (www.dosomedamage.com), a collective of noir writers from the US and the UK. His official website can be found at www.russeldmclean.com.

He lives in Dundee.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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McLean's touch is interesting.
nigel p bird
The author has managed to work that premise into something really good and quite unique in a number of ways.
Tania Hutchison
An excellent debut novel from Russel D. McLean, "The Good Son" is a fun slice of Scottish noir.
J. B. Hoyos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. White on May 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"I've already shot a man this evening, so what's the difference now? Like smoking, it gets easier after the first one, right?" - J. McNee

Dundee, Scotland based J. McNee (full first name never given) is not at a good place in his life when we meet him in author Russel D. McLean's debut novel, The Good Son. Formerly on the Dundee police force, McNee was forced into early retirement following a car crash that killed his fiancée and left him physically disabled and psychologically crippled.

Now working as a private investigator, McNee receives a visit from local farmer James Robertson whose estranged brother, Daniel, was found hanging from a tree on the family's farm. Though the police have it down as suicide, James is convinced his brother did not kill himself and hires McNee to investigate what Daniel had been up to during the 30 years since James last saw him.

In addition to putting him at odds with his former colleagues on the police force, McNee's investigation opens up a Pandora's box of local thugs, London gangsters and a mysterious woman with connections to both, as a visit to London reveals that Daniel had been working for one of that city's most notorious gangsters, Gordon Egg.

Not pleased with either Daniel's unexplained disappearance from London, with a substantial sum of Egg's money, or McNee's visit inquiring about him, Egg sends two of his thugs to Dundee to get to the bottom of things. And that's when things go seriously sideways, as Egg's thugs, Ayer and Liman, cut a bloody path through Dundee in their efforts to retrieve the missing money.
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Format: Hardcover
James Robertson begs Private Inspector McNee of Dundee, Scotland to learn why his brother Daniel would hang himself. (Perhaps suicide is in their genes because their father also committed suicide.) The police believe it is an ordinary suicide. McNee thinks otherwise, especially when Daniel's girlfriend is found bludgeoned to death and some thugs from the nightclub where Daniel worked begin bullying and shooting anyone who knew him. The Robertson brothers shared dark secrets and McNee must learn what they were before more people die.

An excellent debut novel from Russel D. McLean, "The Good Son" is a fun slice of Scottish noir. It is reminiscent of the classic PI novels written by Mickey Spillane and Ellery Queen. "The Good Son" is classic who dunnit. Did Daniel Robertson hang himself or did someone want to make his murder look like a suicide? The ending was rather shocking and morally twisted. The resolution disturbed me as much as it did McNee.

The central theme for "The Good Son" is guilt and how it affects our actions. From the title, the reader knows that family plays a significant role in the novel`s plot. McNee feels a tremendous amount of guilt over his wife's accidental death. He was arguing with her seconds before their car was forced off the road by an unknown driver. He feels guilt whenever someone close to him is wounded or killed during the course of his investigation into Daniel's suspicious suicide. The Robertson brothers felt tremendous guilt, especially Daniel for disappointing his family. He was not the good son that his father wanted him to be.

McNee is the type of person who irritates me. He keeps all of his emotions buried deep inside him, allowing them to gnaw at his conscious.
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By Tania Hutchison on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The premise is simple: injured P.I. gets a case, which turns nasty, and instead of going to the police right away, he investigates himself. The author has managed to work that premise into something really good and quite unique in a number of ways. I wouldn't say I liked the main character right away, but I found him absolutely compelling. The writing was strong, witty and managed to make me shed a few tears.
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