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Mums hey? Who can ever understand them? On the surface they all look normal but all sorts of horrors can be hidden beneath, take for example my mum. She's in her late fifties, has a job as a receptionist and has numerous grandchildren. Everything appears normal but then she will wax lyrically on the invasion of Russia by Germany in 1942 and she likes murder mysteries, oh no to the safe lobotomized Agatha Christie or Ruth Rendell no she likes gritty hard and uncompromising murder mysteries. So on the phone one night she recommended this Scottish author called Stuart Macbride who sets his murder mysteries around a detective sergeant in Aberdeen.
Det. Sergeant Logan McCrae, Logan is a man in his thirties who works for the criminal investigations department of Aberdeen police. He is a man who is intelligent, prone to drink, has troubled relationships with women and a tendency to speak his mind. No before your thinking he isn't Inspector Morse because he has few morals but is loyal to his superiors and cares for the cases he's investigating often becoming involved far more than is good for him. This is the sixth novel featuring DS McCrae and his story is the one central point which the series is hinged upon, through him we see the mean streets of Aberdeen, the rampant sexism, and bigotry of the common Scot.
This novel still set in Aberdeen sees McCrae as the acolyte of the horrid Inspector Steele, she is the worst womaniser in the force which according to McCrae is despite considerable competition. The book begins slowly, the police force have been forced to accept into their community a recently released serial rapist Richard Knox. Knox is a man who targeted elderly men, but is protected due to his involvement with a Geordie mobster. Knox has to be watched for the first month of his parole due to the belief he will re-offend. McCrae has been asked to oversee the surveillance and of course things don't run smoothly.
Along the way, McCrae is given other cases which appear to have no relationship with the central core part of the novel. The storylines slowly come together and the continued character development for McCrae continues, we are taken through his problems with alcohol, relationship problems and clashes with authority. The book ends with a satisfying amount of violence and does appear to have a logical conclusion.
Overall I'm glad my mum introduced me to the series because I found the book very readable, I'm not a huge fan of the Rebus novels which this one is compared with I found this novel far more realistic. I've heard that the McCrae novels have drawn criticisms for being overly simplistic and only exposing one angle of life in Aberdeen, however, he writes the novel with a fair amount of grit but also a pinch of humour and a dash of social criticisms. So we get a complex novel, looking at the under society found in and around Aberdeen, this is a novel which unflinchingly exposes the thoughts, feeling and desires of the common Scot.
The novel works best for the likeability of McCrae and the slightly caricature nature of the Inspectors we meet through his investigations. There is a lot of bad language but unlike some novels set in Scotland I didn't feel like I needed a translator to follow but I'm guessing non British readers may struggle. I'm keen to read the other previous novels in the series and other books by Stuart Macbride and that's a recommendation if I've ever heard it before.