From Dundee to Syria: Forensic skills help shape second instalment of crime thriller set in local area

Arbroath beach, where the novel Shadows begins.

A Tayside author has revealed she used her nephew’s forensics skills to make her new book — centred on the discovery of a body on an Angus beach — “more scary”.

Shadows is the second instalment of a trilogy written by author Jackie McLean and is set in Dundee, Arbroath and Turkey.

Although now based in Glasgow, Jackie is originally from Arbroath where her mum still lives.

The trilogy began with Jackie’s book Toxic — published in November 2014 — which was shortlisted for the 2011 Yeovil Literary Prize, an award for first-time novelists.

Author Jackie McLean

The novels follow Detective Inspector Donna Davenport.

In the latest book, the police officer is called to investigate a body washed up on Arbroath beach.

However, the probe takes a unusual turn with the investigation taking Det Insp Davenport from Dundee to the south coast of Turkey and the Syrian border.

Speaking to the Tele, Jackie explained the process behind creating her first novel — and why she decided to turn it into a trilogy.

She said: “When I first started to write Toxic, I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to write about.

“I just wanted to write a book based in my home town of Arbroath.

“I had already completed Toxic when it occurred to me that it didn’t really have a firm category.

“I then realised it could make a good crime thriller if I made certain parts more dangerous.

“My nephew is a forensic toxicologist, which was handy as he helped me make it a bit more scary.”

The cover of the first part of the DI Donna Davenport trilogy.

With the first book not having answered all the readers’ questions, Jackie realised she needed to turn Det Insp Davenport’s exploits into a series.

She said: “After I had finished Toxic, I realised I had left a twist in the end which I needed to explain, so I did not have much choice but to write another book which is when Shadows was created.

“I’m now also in the midst of writing the final book Run which will complete the series.”

The books are set in several locations across Tayside, including Dundee police headquarters in Bell Street and a flat in the city’s Craigie Drive.

Seonaid Francis, director of ThunderPoint Publishing, said: “In Shadows, Jackie McLean has opened up a world many of us are only vaguely aware of, a world that nevertheless is real for very many people.

“With sensitivity and honesty, she has written a thriller that will shock and grip the reader in equal measure.”

The book will be published on October 19.