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Monday, January 17, 2011

Dark Blood. Stuart MacBride. HarperCollins (2010)


This is a gripping, savage, brutal and very darkly funny thriller with a superbly realised cast and a great setting. Richard Knox, a violent sexual predator, is released from prison and being housed in Aberdeen. DS Logan McRae is involved with the protection of Richard Knox, aided by Detective Superintendent Danby from Nothumbria, the man who had arrested Knox years earlier. Complicating matters are the efforts by an Edinburgh gangster to set up in Aberdeen, counterfeit goods and money and a thief robbing jewelry shops with a sawn-off sledgehammer. The reveals are staged with care and relish, the cast are all active and engaging, the plot gets darker with each turn and it leads to a horrifying conclusion.
Everything in this story works well, the setting, Aberdeen in the snowy depths on winter, acts as the bleak backdrop to the even bleaker activities of the cast. Logan McRae is is a downward spiral, personally and professionally and his efforts to regain a hold om his life push nicely against the currents of the story. The plot is big and very well constructed, the main story weaves and twists alongside a number of smaller threads, neither detract for each other and they combine to give a vivid picture of the criminal activity within the city.
Bursting out of the book is Detective Inspector Steel, a foul mouthed force of nature who provides a great deal of the book tar black humour. The whole cast are given a vivid life and their active determination gives the story tremendous energy and momentum. This violent, unpredictable and very funny book is a great read, written with great care and skill, top flight crime fiction.

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