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review 2017-05-10 12:46
Police procedural in Scotland which is quite good and engaging
A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

Set in a fictional Scottish town, this police procedural novel is about a serial killer on the loose and a bunch of misfit policemen are on his trail. The case shows the seedier side of Scotland's poor and disaffected and the novel has scenes of many types of abuse. The main character, Callum McGregor, is well-developed as are those who work with him and are part of his life. The book also looks into McGregor's past and the fate of his family. Peppered with humour, this thriller will certainly please those readers into macabre but "light" mysteries. I didn't like the ending much but it does bring everything to a close. Easily read even if many scenes are quite disturbing. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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review 2017-04-14 19:15
A Dark So Deadly..
A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

Give me "Fifteen minutes, Twenty tops" and I'll tell you about this brilliant brilliant crime novel.

If Carlsberg did Crime fiction...


Anyway, probably one of the best I've read in the genre and certainly one of Mr MacBride's best (if not the) Review to follow.

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review 2017-04-08 05:38
A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

Apparently I'm expected to show up at work on a regular basis.....huh. Weird. It's been crazy lately & I'm really behind on reviews. So my weekend project is throwing together some random thoughts for the last 3-4 books I've read, including this one. Try to contain your excitement. 

 

                                         

 

Ok, here goes....

 

You think you’re having a bad day? DC Callum McGregor is having a bad life. After being raised in care, he became a cop to help people like himself. But the trajectory of his career took a nose dive after covering for his pregnant girlfriend when she screwed up a crime scene. Now he works in the unit of last resort with a motley crew who have all been “specially selected” for various reasons.

 

They are the dogsbodies who get all the grunt work….like picking through Oldcastle’s garbage dump after receiving reports of a body. DI “Mother” Malcomson & DS McAdams are hoping for a nice juicy murder case. Instead, they find a mummy.

 

Callum gets no end of grief from his co-workers who think he purposely contaminated a crime scene on behalf of a local gangster. So when DC Franklin joins the unit, he gets the babysitting job. She’s a gorgeous black woman, 3 things that ensure she’s had to put up with more than your average cop. And she wastes no time putting Callum in his place. Great…one more person to dump on him.

 

They get called out to an abandoned vehicle only to find the trunk is inhabited. By another mummy. It’s the start of an investigation that leads to more bodies, odd evidence, missing persons & forensic fumbles.

 

Of course, WE know what’s going on. In alternate chapters we peek over the shoulder of a deranged & twisted killer trying to buy his way into heaven. As the story progresses we get the 411 on what they’re doing & why, everything except their name (I’m just going to take a moment & say “Eeewww”).

 

And that’s only one thread of the story. There are multiple side plots having to do with domestic abuse, office politics & Callum’s personal life. There’s a large cast who are well developed with distinct personalities. Incredibly, despite the number of characters & story lines, you never feel lost or confused & everything is neatly woven together by the end.

 

To be honest, it took me a bit to fully sign on with this one. I’m a huge fan of the author & wait (im)patiently for his books. One reason is a gift for black humour that makes me giggle at the most inappropriate times & I missed that here. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of funny bits, particularly some of Callum’s dialogue in the second half as he comes into his own. It’s of the less dark variety but that’s just a personal preference thing & no reflection on the writing. I even got used to McAdams’ tendency to speak in haikus. Then a couple of things happened that changed Callum & his circumstances & from that point I was all in.

 

The evolution of the “Misfit Mob” feels authentic & is very well done. Initially they interact like bickering school kids, all of them resenting where they’ve ended up. But as the scope of what they’re dealing with becomes clear, they start to work as a unit & learn to tolerate each others’ personal tics. Oh they still squabble but it’s more like siblings instead of sworn enemies.

 

If you noticed and/or felt intimidated by the page count, you can relax. The story lines get equal time & it all zips along at a pace that keeps you on your toes. The killer is not the only man of mystery & you’ll keep reading into the wee hours just to learn the real identity of several of the characters. And as it heads into the last quarter, don’t be surprised if you find yourself curled up in the fetal position with every light on. It becomes compulsive reading & I’m willing to bet you’ll reach the end in less time than some books that are half the size. It’s a proper big stonking read with great characters & here’s hoping we run into Callum & his crew again.

 

                                           

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review 2017-04-07 20:18
Dark and gritty
A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

I have come to expect from Stuart MacBride a certain use of language, a certain Celtic/Scottish razor-sharp banter and a brutal realism in the unfolding of the story...with that in mind A Dark So Deadly does not disappoint. The setting is the fictional town of Oldcastle (used previously by the author and in particular the Ash Anderson books, Birthdays for the Dead and A Song for the Dying) as seen through the eyes of DC Callum MacGregor...."Squat grey council houses scrolled past on either side of the street, lichen -flecked pantiles and harled walls. Front gardens awash with weeds. More abandoned sofas and washing machines than gnomes and bird tables...." Macgregor has been accused of accepting a bribe and tampering a crime scene in order to allow Big Johnny Simpson escape a murder charge and because of this has been assigned to the "Divisional Investigative Support Team" Officers assigned to DIST are asked to work on boring impossible to solve cases, one step away from dismissal. When what appears to be a ancient mummy is discovered Macgregor and his colleagues from the Misfit Mob are sent to investigate. A post mortem examination reveals recent dental work and Macgregor now finds himself part of a murder investigation. As the  body count mounts the race is on to reveal the identity to a killer who enjoys "smoking" his victims granting  them a type of God like status.

 

This is one big story, stretching to some 600 pages with the action and crisp dialogue full on from the opening. There are some wonderful characters, and that fine turn of wit and black humour that is the signature of MacBride's writing. We encounter DCI "Poncy Powell" and Macgregor's immediate superior DI Malcolmson affectionately  referred to as "mother" (not quite as gregarious and crude as DI Steele in the Logan McRae novels) And of course not forgetting that great witticism..."A sad excuse for a beard that looked as if he'd made it himself out of ginger pubic hair"... "Watt stiffened. Thank you, Constable, but I'm dealing with this.."Please forgive him. He's been in a bad mood ever since he got back from the doctor. They can't do anything about his frighteningly small penis, and it's upset him a bit."....."He wasn't a dick when I met him."Yeah  well you know the old saying: some men are born dicks, some have dickishness thrust upon them, and some achieve dickosity all on their own."

 

This is a story full of murderers and paedophiles, of people living at the edge of society in squalor and depravity, a story where even the police survive by adopting a type of gallows humour. Where else but in Stuart MacBrides writing would you encounter a character like police officer Andy McAdams, dying of bowel cancer, still on active service, and able to create humour out of his terminal condition.."There he was standing at the bar, knocking back a sneaky whisky while the barman pulled the pints. "They've got him on another round of chemotherapy, Being colourful is how he copes. Great. Callum puffed out a breath. "I'm sorry he's dying. But now and then, it might be nice if he was colourful at someone else for a while...."

 

My only small criticism is the page count and I personally felt it would have been better condensed into 450 pages. As I reached the surprising conclusion and the perpetrator was finally revealed I felt, similar to many of the police officers, mentally battered and bruised and somewhat glad that the action was at an end. This however is a small and personal observation which did not detract from the telling of an exciting story from an author I greatly admire. I do hope Police Officer Callum MacGregor will return in the near future for another breathtaking roller coaster outing. Many thanks to the good people at Harper Collins for supplying me with a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written...

 

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text 2017-01-02 05:10
Top 10 Books/Audiobooks from 2016
The Girl on the Glider - Brian Keene,Keith Minnion
The One and Only Ivan - Patricia Castelao,Katherine Applegate
Written in Red - Anne Bishop
Murder of Crows - Anne Bishop
Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
Birthdays for the Dead - Stuart MacBride
The 45% Hangover [A Logan and Steel novella] (Kindle Single) - Stuart MacBride
Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

Image result for top reads

Last year I read 212 books.

 

A breakdown of my reads:

 

Graphic Novels/comics - 146

Audiobooks - 5

Novels/Novellas - 61

 

Here are some of my book stats

 

 

My Favourite Reads of the Year

 

The Girl on the Glider - Brian Keene,Keith Minnion 

 

Author Brian Keene tells a tale of being haunted by a young girl. This story works best as a glimpse into the life of the author as he tries to manage work against family life. This for me was a brutally honest and personal read, kudos to the author for baring so much of his day to day life, warts and all.

 

The One and Only Ivan - Patricia Castelao,Katherine Applegate 

 

Ivan is a captive gorilla, housed in mall zoo!! He and other animal residents seem resigned to their life until Ruby arrives and Ivan decides he wants more for her.

Beautifully told, heartbreaking at times but ultimately uplifting. Ivan's observations on humans had me laughing as well as crying at the senseless cruelty that is meted out to  animals.

 

Written in Red - Anne Bishop  Murder of Crows - Anne Bishop  Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop  

 

The Others series is the book equivalent of crack. I literally can't get enough even though this series should bug the shit out of me, it works. I never expected to like this series as much as I have and I'm grateful to the BL peeps who put up such great reviews that piqued my interest.

 

Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola 

 

1880s New York, a power struggle between Black Lena and the upper class Stallworths begins as the Stallworths sentence 3 of Lena's family members to be hanged.

I loved the period feel to this read, there was a lot of detail that went into each area, the dirty, debauchery of The Black Triangle which contrasted sharply with the sterile elegance of Washington Square.

This tale of revenge was brutal and shocking but I still felt myself cheering Lena on.

 

Birthdays for the Dead - Stuart MacBride 

 

Gritty and disturbing as most of Macbrides work is, this was still able to deliver a gut punch at the end that left me reeling. Scottish noir at it's best.

 

The 45% Hangover [A Logan and Steel novella] (Kindle Single) - Stuart MacBride 

 

A novella that highlights the relationship between Logan Macrae and DCI Steel who find themselves in a tricky but hilarious situation.

 

Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride 

 

Although this book had me disliking the caricature that DCI Steel is becoming it was still a strong read for me. I do feel sorry for poor Logan and hope that Macbride gives him a happier home life at some point.

 

The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell 

 

Creepy and something I couldn't read when it got dark as it was freaking me out too much. Amazing to think how much horror you can get out of sand and a dysfunctional family.

Simple but very effective

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