Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somehow, I always manage to read these books out of order. Not that it really matters with the Logan McRae series, but it's nice to finally read the first book, the one that started it all.
Cold Granite was the M in the A-Z of authors and I'd been looking forward to it when I started all that time ago. MacBride's books are a brilliant conglomeration of gore, humour, outlandish characters and witty dialogue. Cold Granite was no exception.
The discovery of a boy's mutilated body starts off events and soon, children's bodies are piling up left, right and centre, with mob minion Georgie Stephenson chucked in for good measure. At the beginning it's hard to see how all of these crimes would link together but they eventually do, all unravelling and explaining themselves, fitting neatly in the giant Aberdeen puzzle.
MacBride describes crime scenes with relish and gore. This book is certainly not for the squeamish. There are several outbuildings full of dead animals and despite it being written word, it's as if the smell is with you in the room. So is the cold, bitter wind and mountains of snow.
But to balance the gore, is the humour, definitely one of the reasons I keep coming back to this author. There's a wealth of eccentric characters, pantomime villain and sweetie fiend DI Insch, chain smoking lesbian womaniser DI Steel (my personal favourite), 'ball breaker' WPC Jackie Watson and Bastard PC Simon Rennie, to name just a few. As I've read other books in this series it was nice to see familiar characters before I knew them. For example, PC Rennie isn't mentioned too much in this book, but he becomes more of a feature in the later ones. In contrast, Logan McRae himself is quite normal.
I don't normally give murder mysteries five stars, but in the past I have given MacBride's books full marks. However, this one didn't quite get there. The only reason for that is because rather than following evidence and linking crime scenes together that way, Logan would almost have an epiphany. For example, it appears one child has been beaten, but after seeing a road safety advert he realises the child must have been hit by a car. There are a few moments like this and although it doesn't take anything away from MacBride's genius, gory but hilarious world, it can seem a bit stilted and a bit unrealistic.
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