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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The Missing and the Dead Stuart MacBride

23883863While I’ve so enjoyed every single book in this series bout DC Logan McRae and his hilariously inappropriate but utterly loyal sometimes boss, DI Steele, so far (so much so, I am saving the last few books so I don’t leave this world yet), this one has to be my favourite.

Unlike the earlier books which saw McRae part of division and investigating murders, this installment has him posted (on secondment for professional development purposes – or so he’s told, but you get the impression and his record indicates, it’s more punishment) to community policing. No longer an Acting Di, McRae is once again a constable, but without the “detective” moniker. In charge of three areas in a remote location, he has his work cut out.

From the opening pages, the reader is thrust into both the humdrum and dynamism of this kind if police work. The way MacBride captures this, the almost staccato yet speedy nature of the narrative, how we move between cases, radio demands, conversations, and crimes is exhausting and exhilarating. You live and breathe the job with McRae and his team. Yet, though there are many cases and criminals, MacBride brings it all together superlatively with some overarching cases and interlinking.

Within a few chapters, you’ve grasped the various capes – geographical, people, cultural and feel as embedded as the cops whose shifts we share.

I didn’t want this book to end. It was thoroughly captivating, peppered with its usual wonderful dialogues and character interactions – positive and negative. It has its quirky characters (both on and off the force) and those who you wish would get Steele’s boot up the proverbial.

I know I promised myself I would wait to read the next McRae book, but it’s going to be hard. This was just so good…

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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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