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The Order: A Dark Urban Scottish Crime Story Book Review

by Kathleen Lance

Synopsis

As the expert in international child abductions, QC Brogan McLane signs an order allowing police to stop, search, and arrest the crew of a ship supposedly smuggling blood diamonds using children as mules. When McLane discovers that his closest friend, Big Joe Malarkey, is the captain of the ship, he realizes something is wrong. Big Joe has been set up.

Working together with Big Joe and his crew and a young computer genius, McLane must find out who is actually guilty. At the same time, he and his wife fight to keep a young African child from being deported to her war-torn country.

Theme of the Book

This is a book that underlines the search for justice despite the obstacles thrown in the way. It is also the story of a close friendship, nearly a brotherhood, between two very different characters. But it is the struggle for justice in what seems a very unfair world that consumes both the main characters and the reader.

What I Liked About the Story

The Order picks up where Mayer’s first book, The Trial leaves off. The same main characters are involved: Brogan McLane, the QC who grew up in the seedy alleyways of Edinburgh and does not fit neatly into the rarified society of Parliament House; Big Joe Malarkey, a gangland boss gone straight and McLane’s best friend; the secondary characters of the Arab and Tucker Queen who goes from being a mere messenger to a computer whiz. In this second book, the reader learns more of the past of all of these characters making them come alive.

There is yet another secondary character, Karla, who may remind the reader of Lizabeth Salander. Karla, like Salander, is an expert with computers, but unlike Salander is far from antisocial. Karla is a delightful character whose presence adds a touch of comedy to a serious story.

Mr. Mayer addresses a subject some may find difficult to read about. In the Prologue to the novel, the reader will find disturbing scenes straight from today’s news. Instead of the sexual abuse of children described in The Trial, here Mr. Mayer tackles child slavery and the use of children as mules to smuggle blood diamonds. By concentrating on one child victim, Ababuo, Mr. Mayer tells the story of countless children caught in dire circumstances.

While there are courtroom scenes in this book, there is also a “Mission Impossible” feel to the plot with the machinations and hacking McLane and Malarkey use to uncover the plot against them. The action moves quickly with little interruption.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

Mr. Mayer has done a wonderful job with his main characters. Unfortunately, his villains are less well-developed. Lord Marchion, especially, seems a stereotype of an unfeeling, snobbish, and ignorant man. It would have helped the novel to have the villains a bit more human.

For those unfamiliar with the Scottish legal system, both The Trial and The Order will leave the impression that there is rampant corruption throughout. Aside from one judge and one staff member, the judiciary seems to be nothing but grasping and greedy. Can this be an accurate picture?

Final Say

Unlike many second novels in a series, this one does not simply repeat the first with a slightly different story line. Mr. Mayer has managed to take the same characters and the same setting and develop a new though unsettling plot that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.