After an emotionally and physically exhausting case of a child sex murder back home in Edinburgh, Detective Inspector Ray Lennox has taken leave and is flying to Miami. Joining him is his fiancée Trudi, an old flame recently rekindled, and the two hope to move on from past troubles and work out their future together. Lennox must come to terms with memories that weren't left behind in Edinburgh, whilst Trudi obsesses over the wedding he has little interest in planning.
Lennox has developed alcohol and cocaine addictions since the beginning of the case, and this begins to take a hold, causing arguments that make him wander off, leaving Trudi alone. Where is he going?
Irvin Welsh takes us on a terrifying trip with Lennox, as he meets a drug addicted group of locals who happen to have a ten year old girl to take care of. Along the way we get flashbacks to the case in Edinburgh that Lennox has just closed. From day one, Irvin Welsh addresses the reader as Lennox, and it is this poignant writing style that leads us nervously through the days, weeks, months of an investigation of a missing little girl.
Chapters are distinguished between the Edinburgh flashbacks, with feelings of cold, grey uncertainty and back-stabbing police station politics, and the glaring sun and seedy underworld of Miami; fast-moving, friendly and unnerving locals, paranoia.
The reader is often questioning the actions of Ray Lennox. After leaving Trudi, he drinks alone at a bar, where he meets the two local drug-addled women who take him back to their apartment, to meet two foreboding and sleazy men, along with ten year-old Tianna. Lennox quickly stops the party, with one thing on his mind: getting Tianna away from the men (and her mother). He takes her across Florida, in an unhinged effort to rescue her. It seems no one can be trusted, however (least of all by Lennox), and the story ends when Lennox infiltrates a group meeting of these men, and gets revenge on a boat belonging to a friend of Tiana's mother.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was a very interesting and unnerving delve into the mind of a man with increasing amounts of pressure on his mind. It explored in great detail the process of investigating a missing person, and the local politics behind it, as well as the reactions of the media. I particularly enjoyed Edinburgh chapters, which explained the actions of Ray Lennox in the Miami chapers, providing back-story and the ugly truth.
Best scene in story:
The scene at the end in which Lennox and an old childhood friend finally come to terms with an act of abuse that was committed on them both at a young age. It is a scene of closure and coming to terms for Lennox, and, whilst graphic and terrible to read, is ultimately inspiring.
Opinion about the main character:
Ray has a defeatism about him, with his submission to alcohol and drugs as an escape, and his abandoning of Trudi. Welsh, however, writes him as just enough of a sympathetic character that we are behind him all the way.