The series began with publication of the first book in 2017, and follows the exploits of the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team. Bernard, Mona, Maitland and the others are an uneasy mix of seconded Police and health service staff whose job is to stem the spread of the Virus, a mutant strain of influenza, by tracking down people who have missed their monthly health check.
I loved this series straight away, with its fascinating backdrop and its acute observation – often humorous – of human behaviour and clash of workplace cultures. Each book sees the team work on different cases, and there’s also a thread that runs through all of them. So each book is great as a stand-alone, but even better if you follow the series.
In Murder at the Music Factory, an undercover agent gone rogue is threatening to shoot a civil servant a day until his demands are met. Tasked with finding out who ‘turned’ the agent, the team track down the last two groups he was monitoring – a group of student eugenicists who think the Virus should be allowed to take the weak, and a former progressive rock musician, now a survivalist. It’s getting dangerous – and not just for the team.
This is the first of the series, of course, that will have been published during a real life pandemic situation – a case of fiction become fact if ever there was one. What struck me was how accurately the books mirror what has actually happened in reality, a testament to the research effort put in by Lesley. I loved the development of the characters, and the perfectly timed humour made me laugh out more than once. The book also kept me hooked, and guessing all the way, with its race against the clock plot. And I have to say, rarely has the ending of a book left me so unnerved. Lesley – please get that fifth book out soon!