Kirstin Rutherford returns to Edinburgh after two years. Five months ago her beloved father-in-law Jamie drowned in The Cauldron - a deep pool in the Water of Leith, only nobody had told Kirstin. Divorced from Ross, she finds that Ross has not told her about Jamie's death or his funeral for some strange reason. Even more distressing than not being told, it seems that everyone thinks that Jamie's death was either a tragic accident or suicide, but Kirstin refuses to believe that the man she knew could possibly have committed suicide. Ross is not so sure, positive his father had changed in the months before his death.
The only person who may know the truth is Morag. In the months before Jamie's death he had been working as a volunteer river guide and self-appointed park ranger, and Morag and her crowd of friends were residents along the same part of the river. Their activities - parties, games, drinking and playing hard on the banks of the river had brought them into direct confrontation with Jamie. Despite all his best efforts he wasn't able to curb their behaviour, but when two of that crowd are murdered at the Cauldron - just a few months before Jamie's own death, Morag is accused but finally released from jail due to lack of evidence. Convinced Morag is the key to the truth behind Jamie's death, Kirstin befriends her, but Kirstin soon discovers that Morag is unpredictable to say the least.
According to the bio that came with THE DEAD POOL, Sue Walker is a journalist who has specialised in miscarriage of justice cases and THE DEAD POOL follows that vein of investigation - the testing of evidence and events around the death of all three people - the two murder victims and Kirstin's father-in-law. The author is obviously deeply interested in the subject of how people can seem to be guilty of things even though there is very little actual fact behind the perception. THE DEAD POOL covers the question of whether or not Morag is guilty and if not, who else could possibly be involved. The question of Jamie's death is central to Kirstin's obsession, she desperately wants to understand what happened to her much loved father-in-law, both before he died and how he died.
The other interesting component of THE DEAD POOL was the author's choice to populate the book with a lot of difficult characters. Those of the crowd in which Morag mixed that were still around were mostly unpleasant, over the top, self-involved. This gave an interesting twist to their possible involvement in any of the deaths as even Morag was very hard to sympathise with or even like for that matter. Jamie's son Ross seems almost too good to be true, and a weird sort of user, an uncomfortable character to be around, whilst Kirstin, the central character of the book, was equally disconcerting in many ways. Ultimately the true killer wasn't that hard to pick fairly early on, and whilst a number of the side considerations of possible motives or the vague possibility of collaboration were dangled at points, the resolution with a little bit too much rushing around in the rain without the much longed for mobile telephone gave the book a bit of a flat ending.