Monday, 27 February 2012

Stuart MacBride: Dark Blood Review

Detective Sergeant Logan McRae is stuck in rank and stuck in Aberdeen. His mood is further blackened when he's landed with a babysitting job - except the baby is a weasely pervert with a penchant for raping senile old men.

Richard Knox has served his time, found God and returned to his grandparents' house in Aberdeen. He's accompanied by a very large DI Danby from Northumbria, a DI who doesn't like giving out details and who doesn't like McRae's insubordinations.

Dark Blood is set against the rather unbridled developments around Aberdeen: Donald Trump's massive efforts being reflected in the more modest but no less tacky little boxes being erected by Malk The Knife, a renowned Edinburgh gangster. It zips around in the Aberdeen rain like an informer's face on a hotplate. There's counterfeit currency, knock-off DVDs, a missing informant and plenty of class A drugs. There's also Wee Hamish Mowat, local crime lord who has taken Logan to his bosom, via a string of tip offs about the competition. And Reuben, Wee Hamish's chief enforcer - he just likes hitting Logan.

Logan's already drinking too much and upsetting goth forensics partner Samantha. Inspector Steel is back, munching more bacon butties as she veers between the uncaring outrageous and trying to stop Logan moaning his way out of the Job. Incompetent Beattie is pestering Logan for a ride on his coat tails. DCI Finnie is losing patience. Enough, you'd think, but MacBride expertly throws in more.

Part of Knox's past is catching him up, albeit in an amateur way. More disturbing is a sinister trio rocketing north in a Range Rover. Danby's behaviour is partly accounted for by the sad and vicious end to the life of a friend and colleague. And finally he coughs - Knox is an accountant - more importantly, he's Malk The Knife's accountant. Now we know why decent prisoners trying to beat up a nonce got carved up for their troubles. We also find out that Malk is dying and Knox may be the key to millions in hidden loot. Knox is wanted by a lot of people, for vengeance or for profit.

If you've read any others in the Logan McRae series you'll know that the author excels at mixing a myriad of storylines, some connected, some not. The Aberdeen plods work their way through them, sometimes rightly - the one thing guaranteed is that Logan will have a hunch leaving him facing horrendous odds (nail guns, savage dogs, expert heavies). Dark Blood is no exception - a genuine page-turner with smiles and shudders playing tennis with the emotions. It's nasty, it's funny, it's hugely entertaining. It's also very vicious and not for lovers of Agatha Christie. Or Barratt houses.


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. I've read one of these but I'll be trying more after reading a couple of your reviews.

Post a Comment

What do you think?