Runaway: Aberdeen’s answer to Happy Valley

Posted on March 14, 2019

Claire MacLeary’s Runaway, published by Contraband on 14 March, is the third novel in her hit Harcus & Laird series of novels, which have previously been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and the Hearst Big Book Awards.

Runaway is a ballsy thriller with a social conscience, which shatters the crime fiction mould. The protagonists – two middle-aged suburban housewife detectives – are unusual, too.

Claire is finding success with a flair for naturalistic dialogue, an “I’ve seen it all” attitude and a willingness to explore #MeToo politics and issues such as domestic abuse and social inequality.

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes, her husband is frantic with worry and turns to local PIs Maggie Laird and ‘Big Wilma’ Harcus.

Maggie is reluctant to take on a ‘misper’ case, but Wilma cajoles her into a covert operation – trawling women’s refuges and homeless squats in search of a lead. But when a woman’s body is discovered in a skip, the unlikely investigators are dragged into a deeper mystery involving people-trafficking, gambling and prostitution – and they’re in deadly danger.

With the police struggling to make headway and the clock ticking, the race is on for Harcus & Laird to find answers, further straining their already fraying relationship.

With Runaway, Claire MacLeary delivers the goods again – creating a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wit of ‘women of a certain age’.