Sunday, 28 July 2019

All That’s Dead, by Stuart MacBride.

           They’re back!  All the great characters in Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae novels make a reappearance, from main protagonist Logan, reluctant Inspector for Professional Standards, Police Scotland’s austere department of coppers policing coppers, to demoted DS Roberta Steel, proud vaping lesbian and champion delegator – mostly of jobs she considers beneath her station – to Tufty, alias PC Quirrell, a wee loon so out there that most of his colleagues consider him an interplanetary visitor – and of course, the subsidiary villains.  Oh, it’s a pleasure to climb (vicariously) into Logan’s Audi (he saved long and hard for those great wheels) as he is sent off after a long sick leave by his bosses on what should be an open-and-shut case, run by a Detective Inspector King:  Logan is to observe King’s handling of the day-to-day disposition of colleagues and witnesses.  There have been complaints;  King is reputed to have a short fuse, and it’s up to Logan to report on King’s suitability for major projects – like the current abduction of several very different people:  a Scottish Councillor, an Academic, and a local reality show celeb.  All had very publicly supported staying with Britain in the Brexit talks.
            Needless to say, there is no such thing as ‘open-and-shut’ regarding these cases.  The more the police dig, the less they find:  the only sure evidence they have is that these men seem to have been kidnapped by a very secret Scottish Rights group, whose main aim is to drive the English out of Scotland forthwith.  Scottish Nationalism has been a touchy subject for some time, especially with the inequality of representation at Westminster, but when the bloody hands of the abducted academic turn up at BBC Scotland, there are grave fears that pieces of the rest of him might be sent to other media.  And as we all know, bad situations can get even worse:  a tabloid reporter hints that he has evidence that the lead detective, DI King, used to belong to a Scottish ‘terrorist cell’ in days gone by. 
            Police Scotland is screaming at its Aberdeen branch to find the kidnappers yesterday and restore its public credibility – well, good luck with that , thinks Logan;  they will do their formidable best, but the situation becomes even worse when the kidnap victims are found, and DI King is with them – barely alive.
            Stuart MacBride thrills his myriad fans yet again with his consistently excellent combination of horror and humour;  no-one writes a better crime novel than he, and I reckon the only thing that will kill Logan, DS Steel and wee loon Tufty will be their evil fast-food diet (which DS Steel always drops down her front.)  Not a vitamin to be seen!  FIVE STARS.      

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