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Something caught his eye, as if the sun was reflecting on something shiny. The source of this momentary distraction was the clouded glass face of an old wrist watch. He bent down to retrieve it, then recoiled abruptly, standing bolt upright. The watch, complete with decaying leather strap, was secured to the wrist of a skeletal hand.
Clive Allan has drawn upon thirty years experience as a police officer and a profound knowledge of the Scottish Highlands in his crime thriller, The Drumbeater
When skeletal remains are found buried on a beach near the remote Scottish village of Glendaig, the evidence points to murder, to a crime dating back seventy years to World War Two. The task of unravelling the mystery falls to history graduate Neil Strachan, now a career cop, fast tracked into a new role on Northern Scotlands Major Enquiry Unit. When Neil calls upon German naval historian, Matthias Fuchs, to help identify the remains, a name soon emerges, that of a dashing young U-boat ace who mysteriously disappeared in 1941: Korvettenkapitän Max Friedmann.
Neil seeks the assistance of Glendaig’s elderly residents, but encounters an impenetrable wall of silence, causing him to suspect that they know far more about the young submariner than they are willing to impart. With more questions than answers, and under mounting pressure from his cynical boss to wrap up the enquiry, Neil embarks on a race against time to discover the truth. He begins to unravel a tale of subterfuge, escape and astounding loyalty. A tale that will ultimately reveal a secret that could have changed the course of World War Two...
A solid and engaging read
I doubt that anyone who comes across 'The Drumbeater' by the UK fiction writer Clive Allan could fail to be impressed by the sense of atmosphere conveyed by its striking cover. This is a book that makes an immediate statement. Its author takes his work very seriously and is offering the reader something rather special.
'The Drumbeater' crosses over several genres and will therefore appeal to a wide readership. Predominantly a crime thriller set in the remote Scottish Highland community of Glendaig, it switches smoothly between a 'cold case' present-day murder enquiry and the Second World War setting of the crime itself. This is a debut novel of considerable substance and Allan must have spent a huge amount of time on his research. The characterisation is impressive and the writing charged to the brim with atmosphere. There's so much here for devotees of police procedurals right through to lovers of beautiful Scottish landscapes and, with a sea mist drifting from many of its pages, this book will also find an enthusiastic welcome from those interested in naval history. If there was ever a story screaming for transition from page to film, then surely this is it?
I really liked it and was reminded of some of Frederick Forsyth's or Jack Higgins' earlier works. Perhaps the novel's length might challenge today's market, but the narrative shows real pace at times and all credit to Allan for sticking to his guns and writing the story he wished to write. He is clearly an author who believes in bringing detail to the page, and good for him.
If you like to settle down with a solid and engaging read, Allan's writing is for you.