Wednesday 24 November 2010

Stuart MacBride: Cold Granite

"Dead things had always been special to him."

So begins the first of the Logan McRae novels, where Aberdeen's finest hunt desperately for a serial child killer. Both aided and taunted by a cynical and ruthless reporter, DS McRae and his semi-bodyguard WPC "Ballbreaker" Watson career through the rain-sodden tenements and byways in a race to recover missing children before they become further tragic victims. Gargantuan sweet-eater DI Insch drives McRae and all around to near despair as the author marries acidly-described police procedural to a spiral of crime and chase that teeters ever more desperately on the edge of disaster.

Stuart MacBride manages the difficult task of handling a description of the hunt for a child-killer whilst also giving free rein to black humour and almost manic police behaviour. Along the way we meet a host of characters from Aberdeen's underworld, including Desperate Doug MacDuff, so called because he choked someone to death with a rolled-up copy of the Dandy. "Quite the ladykiller in his day" says DI Steel from behind a cloud of illicit cigarette fumes, "But we couldn't prove it."   Take it for granted that Logan will regret meeting this bitter old villain ...

If you like grown-up crime fiction , if you like your humour grim, this is the author for you. Too often first novels promise without achieving much (or even worse, completely flatter to deceive). No such issues here, MacBride kicks you in the goolies at the start and keeps the steel-capped boots going throughout, though the blades and the dog's teeth do sharpen things up a touch. Thoroughly recommended.


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