This is the latest installment in our scheme to review each and every Hard Case Crime mystery in order, one every week. You can follow along here.
Kiss Her Goodbye (2005) moves the Hard Case action outside of the United States. Joe Hope is a leg-breaker for an Edinburgh loan shark. When you need money, and fast, you go to Cooper. If you don't pay it back, and fast, Cooper pays you a visit - with Joe and his trusty baseball bat in tow.
Cooper's a relatively simple man. He's got a ditzy young girlfriend, a lot of expensive whisky, a superiority complex and a nasty attitude. Joe's a more interesting proposition. Initially, he wanted to be a teacher - he fell in with Cooper more out of inertia than anything else. Joe wanted to support his wife and lazily made all the wrong decisions. Or, more accurately, he never made the right ones.
Now, Joe hates his wife (and vice versa) and spends most of his time swilling drinks with Cooper and seeking solace (and only that) with Edinburgh's dazzling array of prostitutes. He bets on horses, he's almost always drunk and, without realising it, he hates his life. The only thing Hope genuinely cares about is his daughter, Gemma.
So, naturally (this isn't a cheerful book), Gemma dies. Suicide - or so he's told.
Joe flips out. Gemma was staying with a slightly worthless cousin, an obese "writer" named Adam who runs a retreat for other talent-challenged examples of the breed. As far as Joe was concerned, Gemma was Adam's responsibility. He hops on a plane, flies north, buys a baseball bat and tracks the man down...