PART OF THE Escape Into Books ISSUE

‘As he approached, he could see the unmistakable figure of Detective Sergeant Quinn issuing instructions to a couple of uniformed officers. He frowned. He still hadn’t made his mind up about his new assistant…’

We have an abundance of fictional detectives here in Scotland, but that doesn’t mean there’s no time to get acquainted with a new one! Introducing DCI Grant McVicar, who has been called in to investigate after a body has been found in Castle Semple loch . . .


Extract taken from Drown For Your Sins
By Diarmid MacArthur
Published by Sparsile Books


The uniformed constable pulled a face as he waved the grimecrusted silver pick-up through the police cordon, then turned back to his post. As it trundled past him and into the car park, a deep voice boomed out.

‘Constable, make sure those camper vans don’t bugger off…’

The vehicle pulled in to a space and the imposing figure of DCI Grant McVicar got out, stretched and rubbed his hand over his shaved head as he stared out over the calm waters of Castle Semple loch; waters that today had been sullied…

He had wakened with a vague, undefined feeling of unease that he couldn’t explain. No doubt it would come to him, but for now he turned his gaze along the car park, already a hive of activity; uniformed cops were taking statements from rather shocked-looking members of the public, SOCOs were busy on the three pontoons that stretched into the loch and there were a number of emergency vehicles parked indiscriminately, including an ambulance and a red van with an empty trailer attached. He presumed that the semi-rigid rescue boat was already out on the water. There were a few buildings situated at the far end of the car park, including Castle Semple Rowing club, outside which the activity seemed to be centred. He sighed heavily and set off towards the epicentre of the investigation; he would keep an open mind until he had spoken to his team, but already he had the feeling that it was going to be a murder investigation. Despite the implications, he felt the first frisson of excitement run up his spine…

As he approached, he could see the unmistakable figure of Detective Sergeant Quinn issuing instructions to a couple of uniformed officers. He frowned. He still hadn’t made his mind up about his new assistant…


DS Briony Quinn regarded the tall figure of her boss as he strode along the car park; she glanced surreptitiously at her watch; unfortunately, he noticed and rewarded her with a frown.

‘Aye, I know, sorry…right, what have we got. Who all’s here?’

“Mornin’ Briony” might have been nice…

‘Okay, Boss, two female rowers capsized at the far end of the loch after hittin’ what turned out to be a body.’

‘What time?’

‘Just before eight, they reckon. Weren’t wearin’ watches, apparently.’

‘Have you taken a statement?’

Of course I bloody have…

‘Aye, but they’re in shock. No wonder, mind you; the body was naked and they think that the hands and feet were tied.’

‘Hm, definitely sounds like murder, then – how did they get back up here?’

‘They managed to wade ashore – it’s pretty shallow up there – then a local resident took them in and called us. There’s a few bungalows up at the end…’

‘Aye, I can see them from my house. Right, is anyone up there just now?

‘Cliff took one of the rowing club’s launches up, just to secure the locus. I’ve got uniforms along at the far end tapin’ off the area, just in case. The place is a warren of paths, it’s a bloody nightmare…’

‘I know, I sometimes cycle down here…’

He suddenly realised that he hadn’t. Not for months, not since…


Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a powerful Zephyr outboard – they turned and saw the Water Support Rescue Vehicle approach and draw in alongside the central pontoon, on which a number of figures had gathered. A black body-bag lay in the centre of the boat and Grant turned angrily to his sergeant.

‘Who the hell authorised removal of the body. I always like to have a look…’

‘Sorry, Boss, it was Doctor Napier. I said you’d probably want to see where it was found but she refused to wait any longer.’

His anger subsided slightly – even he wouldn’t dare cross the formidable and experienced pathologist, Margo “Nippy” Napier. As he frowned in the direction of the pontoon, he saw her petite, wiry form step nimbly into the boat and unzip the body bag.

‘Aye, fair enough…right, who else is here?’

‘Well, as I said, Cliff ’s up at the end of the loch, Kiera is out co-ordinatin’ the uniforms round the paths and Faz is on his way. Actually, I think that’s him arrivin’ now. Sam’s in Dundee on leave, won’t make it back until Monday.’

Clifford Ford, a young and enthusiastic DC, was a relatively new member of the team, still anxious to prove himself; DC Kiera Fox had been with him for a few years, her short red hair matching her short temper, especially where the criminal fraternity was concerned. They were capable officers who could be left to get on with the job in hand.

Grant looked back along the car park as DC Faz Bajwa jogged towards them. The black turban of the young Sikh officer contrasted with the white t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts that showed off his muscular physique and, as he approached, he flashed a wide grin through his dark beard.

‘Morning Boss, morning Sarge. Sorry, was playing football; right, what can I do?’

‘Get back along the car park and interview the occupants of those three camper vans. They’ve got German plates on them but they’ll probably speak English and they might have witnessed something if they’ve been here overnight.’

Faz smiled again.

‘Sure, Boss, Catch you in a bit.’

They watched as he jogged back along the car park.

‘Bloody runs everywhere, that boy, eh.’

Grant gritted his teeth. For some reason, his sergeant’s slightly uplifted east coast “eh” at the end of her sentence irritated him.

‘Hm. Right, let’s get down and see what Nippy has to say. Brace yourself…’


Drown For Your Sins by Diarmid MacArthur is published by Sparsile Books, priced £9.99

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