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Proof of Life by Karen Campbell

I live in a village in South West Scotland and was delighted when, a few years ago, Karen Campbell ran a writers' workshop in the library here as part of Book Week Scotland. A workshop by a successful writer has several benefits:

It is inspiring,

It allows you to hone your writing skills,

You spend time with like-minded people.

Karen is an graduate in English Literature and a former policewoman.  She writes gritty, real stories set in Scotland. Her police procedural crime quartet, featuring the main protagonist Anna Cameron, is extremely well written and the author is generous when sharing her expertise.

In preparation for the workshop, I read Proof of Life, my second Karen Campbell novel.  However, initially it had me quite confused because of its complicated plot, rapid character changes and many story threads.  I could not  follow the multiple transitions, nor could I see how they inter-twined.

The story is set in Glasgow and other parts of Western Scotland.  There are layers of character threads which move in concentric patterns but I did not realise this until close to chapter 60.  I put lots of hard work working out who is who throughout the book: I certainly had to do more than just read.  As a reader, I had to work continuously throughout Proof of Life, but then again the plot was gripping and ensured that I stuck with the story right to the bitter end.

In Proof of Life, Chief Inspector Anna Cameron is a policewoman with everything to lose. Her life is finally back on track, but the mistakes she made in the past are about to come back to haunt her.  When a body is discovered in a Glasgow canal, the death proves to have an unexpected link to something Anna wants desperately to forget.  As Glasgow pulses with the threat of terrorist attack and growing civil discontent, Anna realises everything she holds dear is under threat.

This is a beautifully crafted book, but it is not for the faint-hearted.  If you enjoy a complex crime story with vividly drawn characters, this is the book for you.

The workshop was excellent too!

The Author

Scottish writer Karen Campbell is a graduate of Glasgow University's prestigious Creative Writing Masters, and author of The Twilight Time.

A former police officer, Karen can legitimately claim to have worked the streets of Glasgow, and her debut novel, described as 'gritty as hell, shot through with black humour', weaves personal insights and experiences to take a look at life behind the uniform - and the choices women make in life.

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