DI Ray McBain is confined to desk duty following the incidents of the first volume, but is clandestinely working on a cold case involving a woman who calls herself Audrey Hepburn and insinuates her way into the lives of traumatised families only to inflict mental and physical abuse on them.
In this he is assisted by two colleagues who attempt to keep his involvement from being discovered by others higher in the hierarchy.
This is another of the splendid range of Scotland based detective novels I’ve stumbled across of late. Here we are in the Glasgow of a very likeable protagonist, Ray McBain, somewhat in denial about recent traumatic events and their subsequent effect on him.
McBain’s sections are first person narrative, alternating with the third person narrative of Jim, whose life is in turmoil. Following an accident his estranged wife, Angela, has contracted amnesia and he is forced to move back into the marital home to care for her and their young son. She does not yet know that she left him because of an affair he had with her best friend. Then, a woman called Moira enters their life.
One can’t help liking McBain. He is very deftly portrayed as an ordinary man who battles life’s problems with a mordant wit and a weakness for food. He is fiercely observant and intelligent while being honestly and amusingly self-deprecating about his life, his looks and his eating habits. He comes over as a real person, which is often not the case in these sort of novels.
The other characters, although not as lovingly fleshed out, are a nice mixture.
It has a bit of a twist too which took me by surprise and that’s always a good thing.
I need to go check out the first book now. Certainly keen on reading more.
This is a highly enjoyable romp around Aberdeen, a city painted as being beset with relentless rain and snow. DS Logan McRae is part of a team investigating a child killer. Logan is nicknamed Lazarus as he has only just returned to active duty having been stabbed almost fatally by a murderer he recently apprehended.
When another dead child is found the police are under pressure to find the killer, beset by a reporter who has a mole within the investigation as well as the rank and file of angry Aberdonians.
It’s a non-stop adventure which maintains pace throughout and is peppered with colourful characters.
Despite the depressing central theme it’s an uplifting read with some sprinklings of humour here and there, and a nice balance between action and character development.
Logan is, if I have to poke a critical finger at anything, perhaps a little too nice. It might have been interesting to know more of the history between him and Isobel the Ice Queen pathologist. They were once an item, but it ended badly. This certainly adds an extra element to their working relationship but it might have expanded Logan’s character a little to know what went wrong. Detectives generally need some kind of flaw, and his pining for Isobel doesn’t really cut deeply enough.
The deciding question on this is ‘Will I read the next one?’
Absolutely. It’s always a good sign when a book makes me miss my stop. It doesn’t happen a great deal.
MacBride is kind enough to point out in a afterword that Aberdeen really isn’t that bad, and I am presuming he is referring to both the weather and the residents.
I’m hoping that’s true.
Edinburgh must be the serial killer capital of Scotland. James Oswald recently introduced us to Inspector McLean in ‘Natural causes’, and now we have DC Cullen of the Leith police (who some may remember dismisseth us), assigned to an investigation of a missing person, a woman who is subsequently found strangled with a rope and stabbed in a cheap hotel. It’s a much grittier Edinburgh than Oswald’s although the characters are slightly less well-developed. For me, both novels suffer from a surfeit of police officers. Realistically, of course, this would be the case, but in the context of a fairly short novel it might have made sense to have conflated some of the officers flitting in and out of Cullen’s investigation into a smaller cast. This would have allowed the opportunity to expand and explore the characters of those remaining.
Surprisingly, Cullen seems to have very little angst, apart from having been betrayed by his ex-girlfriend. He is however, an intelligent police officer battling against an entrenched police culture, internal politics, laziness and stupidity.
I am hopeful however that the sequel will give Ed James the chance to flesh out at least the main characters a little more, as they are quite interesting.
Completely addictive. I loved it. When what seems to be a ritual occult sacrifice of a young girl is discovered in a walled off room of an old building, Inspector McLean is thrown into a mystery from the Nineteen Forties, which seems more and more to be linked with a series of gruesome murders and suicides across Edinburgh.
McLean hasn’t as much emotional baggage as most investigators. His parents died in a plane crash when he was a child and he was brought up by his grandmother, who is in a coma following a stroke at the outset of the novel.
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Completely engrossing with likeable and believable characters it is a compelling murder mystery with a creepy supernatural edge, and lots of twists and turns along the way. There’s a reasonably high body count, a set of fairly believable characters (possibly a few too many officers with similar Scottish names if I’m going to be frank) and never a dull moment. There’s even a transsexual fortune teller and an elderly gay couple to add a bit of Edinburgh diversity.
Thank you James Oswald. I look forward to reading more of you.