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Friday, June 14, 2013

Close to the Bone. Stuart MacBride. HarperCollins (2013)

Full tilt crime story awash with blood, brutal violence and pitch black humour all combined with a fantastic cast and great plot mechanics.A body is found chained to a stake, a burning type around its neck. The victim is revealed to been strangled and stabbed as well as burned. With Asian immigrants being savagely attacked and crippled and a gang war over drugs heating up Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae is feeling the pressure in Aberdeen. With two missing teenagers, a new Detective Sergeant and a fraught and complicated relationship with the dying local crime boss matters do not get any less complicated. The plot threads are superbly brought together, the action is ferocious and the conclusion every bit as nasty as it should be.
The glory of the story are the astonishing cast, Stuart MacBride continues to make his series cast fresh, engaging and very funny in the face of the most appalling events.
By far the hardest task that Logan McRae has is to retain his status as the leading character in the story as he is surrounded by a large a wonderfully lively cast all jostling for the readers attention. Detective Chief Inspector Steel remains one of the best characters in contemporary crime fiction, as foul mouthed as ever, she is a stinging rebuke to all writers who trap their characters within the confines of their sexuality. DCI Steel is vigorously lesbian as well as being a disruptive force of nature and a very competent police officer. Her presence electrifies the story and the cast with her astonishing range of inventive, savage wit and sheer energy. At the same time even a small walk part on by a man, who inflicts a nearly unbearable punishment beating, is more than a convenient thug, the details given to him and the scene itself lift it up.
The weakest notes in the book are struck by the cast member who is suffering significant psychotic delusions, while this should give her more force the comparison between her delusions and the absurd and horrifying reality in the the city do not favour her. However wild she is, the cold blooded greed and persistent savagery of others in the cast overshadows her.
The plot mechanics are impeccable, the plot lines converge, separate and then collide with tremendous force and superb story logic. The cast never feel driven by the plot, it seems to ignite directly through their actions with and on each other. Not for the faint of heart and needing a very high tolerance for vividly described violence, the story never reads as if it could have been delivered any other way, fantastic.

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