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Bruno’s father has dementia and neither the unusually hot Scottish summer nor even Justin’s habitual strip-teasing can take his mind off the slow ebbtide of Alzheimer’s. Justin’s suggestion of going to a Psychic Fayre leads to Bruno overhearing a tarot card reading, with cards on the table also for him, then meeting the questioner, Bernadette – who isn’t just the pretty, dumpy, intelligent and deeply lonely nurse she seems. When Imogen and Clara move out for the summer, a new tenant destabilises the house bromance and Bruno flees in tears, running across a sequence of tarot tableaux from The Fool to The World. It all comes crashing down when Bernadette reveals who she really works for and why the lives of thousands of patients depend on recovering an item of proof. But it isn’t only the lives of others that are at stake as the villain of the piece reveals that his deadly threat wasn’t playacting after all.
The Bruno Benedetti Mysteries are aimed at intelligent readers of mystery novels who like characters who they can identify with rather than slick Bond-types. Particular aspects of this series are the move away from the ‘gritty Glasgow’ genre (which has become predictable) and the faithful reflection of the strategic use of dialect in different social situations – which many readers (Scots or not) will recognise.
Alan Ahrens-McManus describes his qualifications as a novel writer as, "a life of getting into scrapes and out of them while hanging out with people so extremely different they wouldn’t be seen dead with each other; years of living and working in dodgy situations in even dodgier countries; a Highland grandmother who passed on her gift of various experiences of second sight; a fascination with the peculiarities of people and a total inability to stop my words jumping around merrily on the page. I also have a respect for my characters, which are only vaguely my own creation, and the patience to let them tell me in their own time and in their own way what they’ve been up to since I wrote about them last."
"The Lovers", rather than just a form of escapism, allows reflection on 'real life' as the main characters are multi-faceted and develop as they learn from experience and each other, a development started in "Tricks of the Mind" and continued in "Shades of the Sun", "Qismet" and "Tìr nam Bàn".