Macbride enthrals again
Stuart Macbride - Shatter The Bones (HarperCollins)
I’ve got a blatant bias for Stuart Macbride’s books, but you can’t argue that the man can put together a police procedural/ thriller.
Macbride’s series featuring Detective Sergeant Logan McRae are set in the Granite City – Aberdeen, Scotland – where I lived for two years. When he talks of the city’s dodgy pubs, relentless rain and biting North Sea wind, dour residents and the endless council flats, I can relate.
Macbride is for Aberdeen what Rankin is for Edinburgh and the awards he has reaped shows that crime fiction is not the sole domain of the south of Scotland.
Macbride’s eighth book in the McRae series, Shatter The Bones, can certainly be read standalone, but I often direct people to the first, Cold Granite (2005).
His style of writing is easy, with just a slight sprinkling of Scots dialect; nowhere near as hard to read as Irvine Welsh. Macbride’s novels are one part hilarious – that black humour that Scots are so known for – two parts detective novel/procedural and seven parts taut, psychological thriller. Adjectives such as ‘‘gutchurning’’ and ‘‘hardhitting’’ come to mind – Macbride is not afraid to push the boundaries of depravity and sickness that lurks in some people’s minds.
Victims meet grisly deaths with previous novels covering subjects such as cannibalism, mutilation and serial murder. Not for the squeamish.
In Shatter The Bones, DS McRae faces his usual hurdles within the Grampian Police Force that hinder him from being an effective copper. He is on the case of a mother and daughter who have been kidnapped; as they were finalists in a reality TV singing contest, it has created a media sensation.
The instant celebrity culture within the UK gets an acerbic slamming from Macbride’s pen, as does the attitudes and methods within modern policing.
There is so much pressure from above to solve the case that McRae is continuously hindered from getting on and doing his job. It’s a page-turner, pure and simple, perfect for a winter’s night.
You root unashamedly for the fiercely loyal McRae, loathe and love in equal amounts his chainsmoking lesbian boss DI Steel, and hope they can solve the case.
But, I warn you, Macbride isn’t a big one for happy endings.
Review by Kris Dando