I am a big Stuart MacBride fan. His Logan McRae crime series never fails to delight me and the man himself is far lovelier than his gory prose might lead you to believe – he has been a judge in a children’s writing competition my writing group ran. Dark Blood didn’t disappoint.
The ‘tag’ for this, the sixth in the Granite City books, says that “Everyone deserves a second chance” but by the end of the book, MacBride makes it clear that this isn’t the case. Not by a long chalk.
Richard Knox, a particularly obnoxious man relocated to Aberdeen on release from a prison sentence for raping old men. Yup. You heard right. MacBride is never one to shy away from the exceptionally nastier side of life. Soon a mixture of Geordie, Aberdeen and Edinburgh gangsters are making McRae’s life its usual living hell in a plot with more twists than a twisty game of twister.
I do have a couple of gripes.
The relationship between Logan McRae and his girlfriend, goth crime scene technician Samantha, has never quite rung true for me. I know they bonded over scars – McRae earned the nickname Lazarus by surviving a particularly vicious knife attack several years before – but is that enough to keep a young, vibrant girl like her with a middle-aged, over-worked grouch? I can’t remember the last time Laz laughed.
In this book it seems McRae has developed an alcohol problem that begins to interfere with his work. I have conflicting opinions about this. Firstly, why did it take so long? The guy has been beaten, abused, knifed, eaten human flesh (not on purpose), lost his PC girlfriend who had her own ideas about what constituted justice …. A lesser man would have turned to the booze long before, if not something stronger. Personally, it might have been more interesting if Logan had an addiction to prescription meds. God knows he has had many reasons to take strong painkillers as a result of his “adventures” and the old cliché of the alcoholic cop could have been avoided.
But I really am nit-picking.
The usual suspects are all back and D.I. Steel is her usual potty-mouthed, non-pc, chain-smoking, hilarious self, this time married to her partner Susan who just happens to be carrying Logan’s child. It’s complicated.
I’m looking forward to reading MacBride’s next instalment in the Logan McRae series, Shatter The Bones. I’d like to wait for the paperback so I can line them up on my bookshelf, but the kindle version might win the day.