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Fans of Logan McRae might be a little disappointed with this latest instalment in his ever unending chaotic life. The murders are as gruesome as ever; DI Steele is just as obnoxious and disgusting as ever; and interaction with his girlfriend is funny and heart rending; but a dedicated fan just feels that something is missing, it's a bit messy and not gelling quite as well as we are used to. Opening with a gangland style murder, a body is chained to a stake, stabbed and with a burning tyre round its neck. The bodies begin to pile up; there are links to a local film set and witchcraft; a missing teenage couple; Asian immigrants being crippled; and to top it all someone is leaving little bundles of bones outside Logan's home... It's still a really good read and you won't want to put it down until you find out 'whodunnit'
Close to the bone is the eight book in the Logan McRae series of crime novels set in a modern day Aberdeen, this is the first of the eight novels were McRae is an inspector rather than a sergeant. The books are written by Stuart Macbride and the books depict a dark, brooding, permanently rainy Aberdeen where the criminal underclass constantly undermines the police and the law abiding populace. The book is told in first person narrative by Logan McRae who has to contend with solving the crimes, coping with the wise cracking boss and useless sergeants, he also has a girlfriend who has been in a coma since the end of the previous book (~2 years in Logan's world). There are occasional chapters depicting the murders and why the murderer is doing the acts which Logan will investigate, in this novel we have a gangland style murder where a tramp has his head and arms put through a car tyre and then set on fire. This murder has echoes in drug gang warfare in South America but there appears to be no drugs connection, however, McRae keeps finding small bundles of bones and has to fend off the overtures of the town's principal gangster. This novel is the first as I mentioned to have McRae as an inspector rather than a sergeant, one of the joys of the previous novels was the battles between McRae and the inspector investigating the murders and the writer smoothly moves the contests up the food chain with his inspector now chief inspector Steele and still able to give McRae grief. I do wonder about CI Steele, she is foul mouthed and has no concept of political correctness and tact, I suspect in reality that she would find advancement extremely slow and a place of power and importance such as running CID would be unlikely. However, as a character in a book she is a joy and her constant comments over sex, drinks, cigs and groping the sergeants and PC are a joy. There is also an appearance of McRae's former boss DI Insch now cast as a producer of a film company making a film about witchcraft and murder, he was one of my favourites in McRae's early novels and feel that the books missed his aggression and tendency to think with his fists. This book was fun and kept the story charging along as normal for McRae novels, the stories slowly intertwine and eventually the sources of the bones are revealed and there are plenty of other murders to keep the story going. Logan is near his best, intelligent, loquacious and an eye for the pretty girl but placing him as Inspector did change the feel of the book and we'll have to see how the future novels cope with his increasing levels of stress and office politics. I enjoyed the novel as normal and hope that the author continues with the stories and continue the story of McRae, Steele and Aberdeen.