The Blood Road by Stuart McIntyre.

Yet another sensational instalment in a Scottish crime series that even though it started fabulously, just keep getting better and better. In this latest “episode” DI Logan McRae and his team of Tufty, Rennie and the best written female detective in any series (alternately infuriating, funny, clever and outrageous), DS Roberta Steele, confront a shocking truth: someone they thought they’d buried and farewelled with mixed feelings is resurrected albeit, briefly. Nevertheless, the short return sets off a chain of events that lead Logan and his colleagues to confront a dreadful truth: someone is selling children at auction. There is nothing else that can explain the disappearance of young boys and girls from the local area nor the fact that no evidence or trail is ever discovered, leaving behind misery and despair – and not just for the parents.

But when Logan understand the connections between an old case, a difficult colleague and the current ones, a series of tragic events is set in motion that puts not just the force at grave risk, but innocent children as well.

As usual, McIntyre doesn’t steer away from exposing the terrible underbelly of Aberdeen and the type of crimes committed as well as the lives of perpetrators and their victims. Brutal, McIntyre also manages to not only introduce a gallow’s humour through his main characters, but the warmth of their interpersonal relationships and the desperate lengths they go to try and help the community and the victims of crime. Nevertheless, the ingratitude of society, the culpability of the media in generating this and the way in which even good intentions can not only be foiled but misrepresented and the consequences of this are all there on the page.

Rich in so many ways, the Logan McRae series (and associated spin-offs) are a fantastic read that I find myself savouring because I don’t want the book to end. Alas, it does, and now I have to wait what will seem an eternity for the next one. *sigh*


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Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride is described as number 10.5 in the Logan McRae series. While I believe it could be read as a standalone, there are many, many rewards for those who know the series and in particular, those who have grown to know and love the former DCI Roberta Steel, a major character throughout the series as well as Logan’s previous boss, the mother of his children and in many ways, his nemesis as well. A woman who is the most original, entertaining, frustrating, sexually inappropriate and marvellous character to ever schoogle her way through a crime series.

The reason a regular reader will reap more rewards is because this book is about Steel and her new side-kick, DC Stuart Quirrel, a man as likely to opine about Black Holes, sense when a greasy bacon butty is in order as he is be a Jiminy Cricket to Steel’s worst instincts. Demoted after she was reported to Internal Standards for planting evidence, Steel is lucky she hasn’t been sacked. Dropping two ranks is a bitter blow for the woman with hedgehog hair and unique way with insults. Relegated to returning lost property along with her staff, Steel refuses to buckle down and restore her damaged reputation – not when there are slimy criminal’s and “rapey scumbags” out there to bring to justice. Determined to bring her nemesis to account, nothing will stand in her way, not solid alibis, the Powers That Be breathing down her neck, or threats of legal repercussions; nor will she listen to DC Quirrel, not even when any professional punishment she receives will also fall on him – including being kicked out of the force for good should she take one wrong step.

Now there’s not only one career at stake, but two… Since when has that stopped Roberta Steel?

Filled with fast-paced action, rich, often hilarious dialogue (the word of the day trope was just too good), not only is this a wild, wonderful ride, but it’s also a great story about criminals, police, loyalty, family, friendship, ethics, compassion and, above all, decency. I laughed, I cried, I gritted my teeth and forgot to breathe on a couple of occasions (particularly towards the end), but not once did I want to stop reading, except to delay finishing. Damn it. I did. I have.

A fabulous addition to one of my favourite crime series.


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Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

8333678Cold Granite is the first book in the Logan McRae series by Stuart MacBride, and it’s a doozy. Opening with a really disturbing scene – not only the finding of a child’s dead body (which is horrific enough), buried beneath snow and ice, but one that’s been mutilated as well, the book sets a cracking pace that rarely lets up.

Apart from a series of grizzly murders and grieving parents, dodgy suspects, and wild Aberdeen weather, readers are introduced to the extremely likeable and relatable Detective Sergeant Logan McRae who, after a year recovering from a near-fatal stabbing and the break-up of a relationship, is back at work, scarred literally and metaphorically by his experiences.

As additional bodies are discovered and the media appears to know more than the police, leaking intimate details of the cases and causing panic in the town to rise, McRae and his colleagues are angry and desperate.

When McRae discovers the source of the leaks and draws closer to the identity of the killer, it’s not just children who are under threat, but the affable DS as well.

Dark at times and laugh out loud funny as well (McRae’s relationship with his colleagues and his bosses as well as his self-deprecation is oft-times hilarious), the book doesn’t shy away from the brutal details (not just of murders, but autopsies – I don’t think I’ve read a crime procedural quite so graphic) and the kind of gallows humour that people in these jobs develop as a survival mechanism. As the case both proceeds and is stalled by outside influence and suspicion within the team, the reader is drawn into not only the case but also the personal lives of the main characters.

Abderdeen is as much a character in the book as the police and grieving families, as it comes alive in all its rainy glory and wonderfully diverse and richly tongued people.

Taut and tightly plotted with great dialogue and logical, believable crime and outcomes, this is a terrific book for fans of crime. Loathe to leave the world of DS McRae and co, I’ve already downloaded and started the next one.

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