top of page

Stark Realities

Peter Carroll

The body of a young girl has been washed up on the shores of the River Forth near Alloa. At first, it seems like a tragic suicide. However, as DI Adam Stark and his team start to investigate, things appear to be less clear-cut.


Links to an influential local family, Stark’s old adversaries the McDuffs, a semi-professional footballer, and the loner who discovered her body, slowly begin to weave together, forming a different story. Something dark lurks in their shared past.


Meanwhile, Stark's own past is taking its toll. He's going through a bit of a crisis. Loneliness and self-doubt are gnawing at him. He doesn't realise it yet but these feelings will soon pale as the case heads towards a shocking conclusion.

Regret apparent. Some people are sorry, very sorry, but why?


This is solid stuff: easy to read 'Scottish' voices, funny and succinct prose and a satisfying plot. There are lots of memorable scenes and characters to care about in a book that works as a stand alone and doesn’t hang around. So much so it would adapt well into a TV three-parter. There is black humour, a strong sense of place (if dialogue driven), and an entertaining plot. The Stark series is clearly worth checking out. This is yet another entry into the strong tartan noir canon.  


The book opens with a young woman seemingly committing suicide. Then the eponymous Detective Inspector Adam Stark is introduced. He is back living in Scotland, having lived in London, a long exile that included the death of Stark’s mother from cancer. Now he’s back on familiar land, and on a diet of self-pity and whisky.


The dead body – the female jumper? – is discovered on the bank of the Forth River and a SOCO team looks for clues.


The deceased is named as Debbie Cook, a recent enroller at University and young relation to a local business man. Debbie’s cousin Colin is affected by her death, having been close from a young age. Also in this inner circle was Paul Jacobs, a highly entertaining if unruly character plying his trade as a pro footballer in the lower leagues. Jacobs has his own interesting associations including an incarcerated ex footballer uncle, and link to a crime family.   


After another body is found initial evidence suggests there’s been an accident but a missing phone is just one of many pointers to the notion that neither of these deaths might have been as first assumed.   


I think this is the third in the series and the main characters, and their relationships, feel well established. Below Stark, a partner of sorts, is the likably supportive Ian Barr, above Stark the not so nice DCI Don Mclaren. There’s plenty of reflection as Stark, on the brink of entering middle age, assesses his relationships – and lack of them.  


An intriging set up with a strong cast. 




About Peter Carroll:

Peter is a Scottish person who's nearer fifty than forty now and has no idea how that happened! He's been married for a long time and has one daughter. When finances and time permit, he travels the world in search of birds and other wildlife and is a committed conservationist. As a self-taught bassist, saying he's a musician may be stretching it, but he has a go now and again. Literary influences include Christopher Brookmyre, Stephen King and Irvine Welsh, so expect bad language, violence, black humour and significantly fewer adverbs than most...oh... So far, he has six novels published. You can connect with Peter on his website at

bottom of page