Bastard Verdict
by James McCrone
Hernes Road Books

"Imogen gauged the area, not many people around. Good. She’d fire the first barrel at close range, take out a front tire. The second she’d aim at the driver."

Imogen Trager is an FBI agent on a year’s leave in Scotland to lecture. In addition, she stepped on many toes while solving her last case and needs to let the situation cool. Shortly after her arrival, one of the professors to whom she is introduced is murdered. As coincidences begin to stack, Imogen, without any professional authority, begins to investigate this death and the supposed suicide of the professor’s friend. She learns there could be a link between the deaths and a 2014 vote. Considering her last case involved voting issues and the US President, Imogen is well-tooled for the job. The more she uncovers, the less trust she has for those around her. She also considers the danger anyone who helps her could be in, as she has lost individuals close to her who gave her assistance in the past.

McCrone’s return to his FBI heroine is well-written and researched. The protagonists and events are plausible, and the secondary characters really come to life. With its intricately planned plot and growing tension created through the book’s second half, this thriller could easily be turned into a movie. The setting is almost exclusively developed through dialect in a book where the first half is protracted and information-heavy. However, readers who enjoy getting all the background to set up the political and electoral backgrounds will find their patience rewarded with a tension-filled resolution relatable to the book’s title. This book will hold the most appeal for those who enjoy thrillers involving government corruption.

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