Book Reviews

Why: Runaway by Claire MacLeary @Sarabandbooks @ClaireMacLeary #LoveBooksGroupTours

You can’t imagine my joy at the idea of sharing my review of Runaway by the wonderful and kind Claire MacLeary!

Thank you so much to Kelly at Love Books Group for inviting me to be part of this wonderful blog tour and for introducing me to a great series!

runaway.jpgTitle: Runaway
Publisher: Contraband
Date of publication: 2019
Format: e-copy
Source: blog tour organiser
Number of pages: 304

The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.


First things first: the combo of a gloomy and intriguing cover with a title that could lead anywhere. Runaway. As soon as I heard about it, my head started going over all the possible scenarios this novel could cover. It didn’t matter that this was the third instalment in a series. I wanted to tear the book apart and get the fun and the answers!

Did I get them? If you know Claire MacLeary, you already know I did!

Maggie and Wilma… What a pair! I am pretty sure they are breaking hundreds of laws of the universe. Their team should not work. They are different, they think different, they talk different. Yet… Yet, as soon as I began reading, I witnessed the masterful way the author combines two personalities to create sparks. Friendship sparks, partners sparks. And a lot of little moments enhancing both their differences and the reasons why their working together is a miracle. I am not privy yet of their previous cases and what brought them together but I intend on reading the previous two books! Why? Because despite the contrast between both women, they make it work. But more than this, I want to get to know them better. I love Maggie’s resilience, her guilt at juggling family, two jobs, kids, and her ‘friendly neighbour’ next door appearance hiding a fine private investigator! With this, I fell in love with lively, raw, strong Wilma, who has been through a lot and is pushing her friend to keep going in spite of their – how to define it? – complicated business. They are so far from the idea you get when you hear the words private investigators, but it works. Mirroring their friendship, this line of work is perfect for those two souls struggling in a life that is everything but simple. Maggie’ ying is Wilma’s yang and vice versa. What comes out of this is a brilliant relationship, made with arguments and laughs, but also a beautiful bond that neither of them will admit out loud.

In Runaway, Maggie isn’t sure about the future of their company, and it takes Wilma’s expert convincing for them to take on the case of a missing woman. I just loved how real life’s problems kept creeping in on both women, reminding them that even with all the will in the world, you can’t do it all, you can’t take it all, and you’re never left alone!!! Financial issues, family issues, relationships issues, everything gravitates around Maggie and Wilma. I love how full their life felt. Maybe it comes from the fact those two have a background, that we are not following twenty-somethings who haven’t experienced life’s battles. Older, but not necessarily wiser, I became fond of Maggie and Wilma in the space of a few chapters!!!

The heart of the matter: a missing woman. It happens a lot. Too often. You know the stats, the police don’t have much time until the clock starts ticking with blood… But what would make a totally normal wife and mother leave her house on a regular Tuesday? Debbie Milne doesn’t suit the job. A nice house, upbringing and husband needing her, and a housewife lifestyle? Then, why? This question echoed in my mind throughout the novel! Short chapters feeling like snippets of life from the police on one side and Maggie and Wilma on the other left me feeling time was both going excruciatingly slowly and dangerously fast! Claire MacLeary know how to keep you in the dark, corner you in dark Scottish streets, and hand you the most intricate puzzles! I think my favourite thing was that I was as clueless as everyone else! It made me feel closer to Maggie and Wilma, and pity the police who were stuck, as they often are, when too little leads appear on unexpected cases requiring thinking out of the box! And for this, you can count of our lovely PIs! The situations they find themselves in gave my heart some hard times, and I could feel the excitement, the fear, and the need to know entangled with the weight of the risks they were taking. Oh, what a ride!

Runaway brought me to Aberdeen, where I visited placed I’d like to go for real, and shed light on less tourist-friendly truths about living in the city, and what happens when you retreat behind the door of your safe place. I was always in the moment, right where the action happened. The author channelled the city and its people right in my living room! Another sign of the terrific and authentic writing by Claire MacLeary!

Runaway is surprising, compelling, and brought to life by two of the most wonderful main characters I’ve met!

Discover this amazing gateway here: buy link



claire macleary

Claire MacLeary has lived in Aberdeen and Fife, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”.
Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee. Runaway is her third novel and continues the Harcus & Laird series. Cross Purpose was longlisted for the McIlvanney Award 2017, and Burnout was longlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award 2018.


11 thoughts on “Why: Runaway by Claire MacLeary @Sarabandbooks @ClaireMacLeary #LoveBooksGroupTours”

  1. Wonderful review my dear! I do love the sound of this story and the cover is fantastic! It’s always great to see two contrasting characters working together making that spark happen.


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