Tuesday 6 March 2012

Stuart MacBride: Shatter The Bones Reviewed

Modern television collides with Detective Sergeant Logan McRae's Aberdeen in the latest of the McRae books. Somebody has kidnapped Allison and Jenny MacGregor - mother and six year old daughter, singing duo and darling of British TV's latest talent show. Not only is the nation glued to the news but the kidnappers have started sending body parts through the post.

Unfortunately for the police, the kidnappers are proving quite expert in not giving away clues. The plods have to resort to a quite distasteful trawl through the Sex Offenders Register, giving MacBride licence for grim humour and low dialogue. Not the book's finest hour.

Rather more of the action is spent on the main plot than the usual McRae tale, though there are still several of the usual sidelines and chances to meet the more colourful (and sad) lowlives of Aberdeen. The author's eye and ear are sharp as ever here.

Interspersed with the police narrative are snippets from the experience and thoughts of six year old Jenny, increasingly acting as a window on the kidnappers as the action progresses.

Keeping the book current, the ransom is to be paid by the public, through online donations. Another weak point here - how could the money be safely extracted by the kidnappers?

So, a few cavils and this is certainly not going to win anyone's Book Of The Month award, including mine. If you came to it as your first experience of Stuart MacBride you'd wonder what the fuss was about. Good but not great - and that's what most of his fans will probably think. It may well be time to move the McRae franchise on - the promotion and change of force snatched from him in Flesh House perhaps.


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