Madness Lies

‘The blood is dark.  It surrounds and changes the patchwork of lichen on the rock, slipping down through cracks and fissures, seeking a return to the earth.  The knife is sticky in his hand.  He lets it drop to the ground.  At his feet, the dead man’s eyes are blank and open to the sky, all malice and vengeance gone.

What now?  What price for taking a life?  Even if the alternative was to lose your own?  Even if there was never a choice, no other way?  A mocking seabird flies overhead, its wanton cries echoing through him.  And he knows.  The price will be everything he has.

Joe Galbraith struggled to rise from the dream, but it kept pulling him back.  The body.  The blood.  The price.  When would it end?  A beating noise, repetitive and strong, filled his head.  He clung to it until the dream let him go.

Rain.  On the window above his bed.  He turned over and opened his eyes.  Four thirty a.m.  He’d be worth nothing if he didn’t get back to sleep, at least for a couple of hours.  But the man in his dream, the man he’d killed, was determined to keep him awake.

Not that he had killed anyone.  The dream had distorted reality, so that Joe held the knife and used it on Stephen MacLaren, instead of the other way around.  Was it regret that sculpted the dream?  Did Joe wish he had killed Stephen?

No, though he’d have done anything at the time to save his sister.  But as he and Stephen had fought on the rugged shore in Harris last year, Joe was stabbed, leaving him with a scar that itched whenever he remembered, and frequent haunting dreams in which the story played out a little differently each time.

Would the dreams end if Stephen’s body was found?  He was last seen jumping into the sea.  Surely his remains must come ashore eventually.  And maybe then the dreams would stop.’

Madness Lies is the second novel in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Joe Galbraith.  Though physically recovered from the traumas of In the Shadow of the Hill , the dreams and memories are taking their toll on Joe.  He also has to deal with the shooting of a councillor in the middle of Inverness, a girlfriend with a potentially life-threatening condition, and a useless colleague that he detests.  With the discovery of another body, and a vicious and elusive killer on the loose, things are not looking good.

Meanwhile, life has improved considerably for ex-heroin addict, Sharon MacRae.  First encountered as the neighbour of the murder victim in In the Shadow of the Hill, she didn’t have much going for her.  Madness Lies sees a new Sharon MacRae, made over and made up, with a wealthy boyfriend and aspirations to leave behind her council flat in the Ferry for pastures new.  Her dreams are shattered when her son, Ryan, is taken in for questioning in connection with the shooting, and she begins to suspect her new man might not be as perfect as he seems.

When Joe’s feud with his nemesis, DC Jimmy Jackson, escalates, leading to a dramatic confrontation, Joe is suspended from the case.  He heads for the Hebridean island of North Uist, where his neglected girlfriend, Carla MacKenzie, is recuperating.  The island provides an unexpected and brief respite from his work troubles, though his relationship with Carla is anything but certain.

Madness Lies contrasts the beauty of the Hebrides with the grim reality of criminal life in Inverness and London, taking the reader on a roller coaster ride that ends with a terrifying denouement at the dramatic Black Rock Gorge.