Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
DS Logan McRae returns for his sophomore outing. Now his caseload includes a serial killer targeting Aberdeen’s prostitutes and a particularly sadistic arsonist.
McRae still proves to be a well formed lead character. You feel for him on the days every little thing goes wrong, and want to fist pump the air when it goes right. He’s got a very human, relatable element that sees him screw up, be a jerk and cause himself problems but you’re always on his side.
The biggest change from Cold Granite is McRae’s transfer from Team Insch to Team Steel. After her sporadic appearances last time, Steel has a much bigger role. She’s as unlike Insch as possible: sloppy, lazy and constantly screwing up. The change, although unsettling on paper, is a master stroke. Yes, Insch is missed aside from the odd fleeting scene, but Steel is just as hilariously entertaining and the new dynamic makes this very much a follow up to, and not repeat of, Cold Granite.
All the favourites return: Colin Miller, Isobel, Jackie Watson, DS Rennie and Steve alongside Hissing Sid and the bureaucratic Napier. Again, the supporting characters are given their own tests and trials which makes them marvellously fleshed out.
As before, there are a number of concurrent investigations which have the same level of setbacks and breakthroughs as before. It’s always interesting, and the multiple-case strategy continues to work by keeping the action moving when one stalls. MacBride wisely avoids the temptation of linking all the investigations with a contrivance at the end: sometimes things just don’t need to all be connected.
The plot delivers some excellent twists, right up until the final scene. But best of all, the brilliant Scottish banter is still at the heart of both dialogue and narration. You wouldn’t want the ‘Screw Up Squad’ of Steel, McRae et al investigating your granny’s murder, but boy is it fun to watch them doing someone else’s!