The seas and oceans of our world are littered with what have become known as ‘ghost ships’. Ships abandoned by their crews and owners to be carried via currents and weather to sometimes drift ashore.
Inspired by an article about one such ship, the MV Alta, the derelict 77-metre freighter which was driven across the Atlantic and onto rocks at Ballyandreen in east Cork, Ireland, I imagined a story where a ship called the MV Orlova came aground at the cliffs of Yesnaby on Orkney. This would be from the perspective of investigative reporter Ava Clouston, an Orcadian by birth.
‘Intriguingly the story of the MV Orlova is shrouded in more mist than the MV Alta. No one it seems lays claim to the ship either currently or in the recent past.
An initial search throws up a mixture of international companies which no longer exist, together with a number of shell companies around the world. Although word is circulating online, that the gaming ship has been advertised on the dark web. If that is true, then it suggests what was happening on board needs further investigation.
So, who currently owns the ghost ship MV Orlova? What was she being used for? Who are the dead people aboard and how or why did they die?
As an investigative reporter who has pursued illegal activities around the world over the last ten years, I fully intend to try and answer these questions.’
As Storm Freya drives the ship onto the rocks in Orkney, it also creates havoc across mainland Scotland, including in Glasgow. When Dr Rhona MacLeod is called out in its aftermath to examine what may have been a self-immolation in a back court in Govan at the height of the storm, she discovers a possible link between the female victim and the company who owned and ran the Orlova.
As both investigations develop, DS McNab finds himself dealing with the might of the Metropolitan Police, who believe they should have jurisdiction over the Orlova enquiry despite the ship coming aground in Scotland. Why are the Met and those in power so keen to keep the Orlova and its secrets under wraps?
Ava Clouston too is under siege. Used to researching corruption in trouble spots around the world, she soon realises that investigating the ghostly past of the MV Orlova has life-threatening consequences closer to home.