THE unsolved murder of a child whose torso was found floating in the Thames in 2001 is to be used as inspiration for a novel by a Scots crime writer.
Lin Anderson, the daughter of a Greenock detective, will draw on the horrifying case of "Adam", an unknown boy who police believed was the victim of child trafficking and ritual abuse. He was thought to be only five years old.
In her book - to be titled Dark Flight - Anderson will tell the story of Stephen, a six-year-old African boy who disappears in Scotland.
In a tale that promises to be as dark as any of the Rebus books penned by socalled Tartan Noir author Ian Rankin, it begins with the murder of the boy's mother and grandmother in Glasgow, with the child nowhere to be found. The mystery deepens when a child's mutilated torso is pulled out of the Clyde, drawing Strathclyde Police and forensic scientists at Glasgow University into the murky underworld of human trafficking and ritual killing.
Anderson only recently gave up her job as head of technology at George Watson's College in Edinburgh to turn to writing full time.
She has been tipped as a future literary star and has had three crime novels - Driftnet, Torch and Deadly Code - published by the small Edinburgh-based Luath Press. All have been critically acclaimed, though have not been marketed extensively in the UK.
Her book will be the first released under the Hodder & Stoughton brand after the author joined the publishing giant in November following a bidding war for her signature.
And in a departure from most of the best-known Scottish crime novels, Anderson's stories are told not through the eyes of a hard- bitten 50-something male detective, but instead her main character is a young forensic scientist called Rhona MacLeod who assists the police on crimes across Scotland.
Anderson said: "Dark Flight begins with the murder of a woman and her mother. Her son of six has run away or disappeared from the scene of the crime. It turns out that the little boy is the product of a Glasgow woman and a Nigerian man.
"They have come back from Kano in Nigeria and once you start to look at why the little boy and the woman are obviously hiding in her native city you start to piece together a puzzle that is just the tip of the iceberg." She added: "I really wanted to look at the issue of children who are being brought into the country; we don't know who they are or where they are."
Anderson herself lived in Nigeria for five years in the 1980s. She developed a fascination with the growing problem of child trafficking, and of the 2001 case of "Adam", an unknown African boy whose torso was found in the Thames.
The boy, who was between the ages of four and seven, is thought to have been the victim of a ritual killing after being brought to London from Nigeria.
After a post-mortem on the remains, a potion that contained ingredients used in African ritual magic was found. His identity has never been discovered.
Dark Flight comes against a backdrop of growing concern over human trafficking. This year, police launched Operation Pentameter across the UK to target traffickers smuggling females into Britain to work as domestic slaves or in the sex trade.
The number of trafficked children is also on the increase, with a growing number of cases in Scotland. Last month, the Sunday Herald revealed the scale of the problem had led Save the Children in Scotland to call for the creation of a national database to record suspected trafficking cases.
Anderson added: "Anything that you write is never as bizarre as real life."
Dark Flight is to be released next year.
Anderson will appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival next month. A spokeswoman for Hodder & Stoughton said the firm was "completely delighted" to have Anderson join its list of writers.
NEED TO KNOW
THE FACTS Greenock-born writer Lin Anderson is to deal with the murky world of child trafficking in her latest crime novel, based in Glasgow.
BACKGROUND Anderson, a former schoolteacher, was signed to publishing giant Hodder last year in a six-book deal.
Her main series character is no worldweary detective, but a sexy young forensic scientist called Rhona MacLeod.
NEED TO KNOW MORE?
www.lin-anderson.com The writer's official website.
www. hodderheadline. co. uk Hodder & Stoughton publishers.
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