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Broken Skin is the third novel by Stuart Macbride featuring detective sergeant Logan McRae in modern day Aberdeen. This novel continues the trials and tribulations of Logan's career as a policeman, Grampian police force and Logan's troubled relationship with PC Jackie Watson.
DS Logan McRae is a man in his thirties, intelligent, resourceful and both dedicated to his job and hating his job at the same time. He is dating PC Jackie Watson and works for either DI Insch, a fat man with a temper or DI Steele a foul mouthed chain smoking woman. This novel begins with the capture of Aberdeen FC's star striker as a rapist on a stakeout by Jackie Watson, she is convinced about his guilt but there is little evidence beyond his attacking her with a knife. There have been a series of unpleasant rapes where young girls have been attacked by a knife and Watson had been set up as a potential victim for the rapist. Alongside this story is a plot where a man is dumped at hospital with terrible wounds to his nether regions, he soon dies and a murder investigation begins.
This is the third novel featuring Logan and Aberdeen and the characters are now well established, we have the comic slightly over the top Inspectors, the tea drinking desk sergeants and the sex obsessed PC's. Here we are drawn into two very different worlds, one of the rich and famous for the star striker's rape case and one into the world of bondage and domination after the man left at the hospital is part of the BDSM scene.
Logan plots his way through a collapsing relationship, an investigation into the world of spanking, domination, and the egos of the inspectors and the needs of his girlfriend. He manages to solve all the cases usually through his insight and intelligence but as with t he previous novels all the credit seems to go to others.
This is a slight movement away from the previous three novels, in this one we know from the very first page that the man is guilty it's not quite Columbo but there is a nod in that direction. This novel is also less intense than the previous novel, and whilst any novel whose main focus is violent rape, and a murder during a kinky sex scene gone wrong can be called funny the author puts in a few lines which raise a smile especially during the bondage murder.
This is the third novel and the best so far, we have an established cast and a well defined story and for the first time Aberdeen is set in a less than savoury light. Indeed there are a couple of depictions of the city where the reader may consider visiting the city. Aberdeen is very much a character in the novels, as is the Grampian police force and the characteristics of the Aberdeen people and here whilst still intense the author depicts all three in a lighter more favoured light.
I enjoyed this novel more than the previous novel Dying Light but perhaps not as much as the first, the identity of the murderer of the bondage man is a bit obvious and how the rapist escapes the police is also a little obvious for this reader. However, Logan still engages with the reader, he is the central character and with the occasional short chapter from the rapist's point of view everything is from his view point. The policeman and women of Grampians police force are still funny, and over the top but very readable and enjoyable.
This is an intense read and anyone who is upset by depictions of violence and gore should avoid the novel but if you like a bit of gritty realism as a counter point to the banal novels by Patricia Cornwell or want a bit humour absent from the Rebus novels then this is the book to go for.
Reading should be a pleasure and, to be quite frank, it don't get much better than this. 'Broken Skin' is the third title in Macbrides crime series featuring DS Logan McRae and it doesn't disappoint one bit - if anything his tales are becoming darker with every book. It's raining in Aberdeen (seemingly constantly) and someone is out on the streets torturing women and McRae girlfriend is working undercover as bait. They have a suspect: Aberdeens star striker but he has an alibi covering himself for every attack. In the end they are forced to release him but Logan thinks they are making a big mistake, as does PC watson who looks like she'll stop at nothing to nail him. If that wasn't bad enough someone has dumped a body outside A&E which, following video evidence, leads the DS into the seedier side of the towns bondage/S&M community. Once again the characters are the real stars with some wonderful dialogue which often had me laughing out loud. It is hard to keep coming up with superlatives that praise this author but I cannot recommend him enough. He deserves to sit amongst the greats of crime-fiction, preferably very near the front.
This is the second of Stuart Macbride's books Ive read the first being his debut Cold Granite. As with Cold Granite this features DS Logan McRae, his girlfriend PC Jackie Watson and the other assorted police around the station.
They are in the midst of investigating a series of increasingly violent rapes, after catching what they think is the rapist they discover that while he was caught by the entrapment process they have employed their suspect is not only a well known local footballer, but has alibis for all the rapes and even worse his lawyer is the universally hated Sandy Moir-Farquharson. The other case being handled is the attempts to find out the identity of a man dropped off at the local hospital after having suffered severe rectal injuries which led to his death.
The rape investigation seems to have stalled and the rapes are continuing with the victims suffering from increasing levels of violence. The body is identified and the investigation is leading in to the slightly murky world of BDSM leaving McRae finding out things he really didnt want to know about some of his co-workers and to add to this it seems Jackie is cheating on him.
As with his first book Broken Skin is set in and around Aberdeen, so while the areas mentioned are unfamilar to me they have more often than not been used in previous books so not completely new. Not being familiar with police procedures I couldnt say if the events would unfold in the way they do but it generally feels like it could work out as the book claims (of course we all know a closet member of the local BDSM scene dont we?).
While not a book which will ever be accused of high literature it does fill a niche for anyone who likes scottish crime novels, and might appeal to fans of Ian Rankin. It is also the first book Ive read which deals with the BDSM scene but even this is dealt with without any apparent interest and the plot devices are at times alittle too predicatable making it a fairly average read. At 568 pages long at times it does feel slightly long in parts and too quick in others. Currently in most supermarkets charts it can be bought as part of one of the multitude of deals or for around £4 on its own.