Sawbones is a short story from author Stuart McBride, which tells the tale of a small group of thugs on the hunt for a serial killer who has kidnapped their gangster boss' daughter. It's a well written book that is very easy to read, although the subject matter is rather gruesome at times, and is not for the faint hearted.
The front cover gives you a good clue as to the sort of thing you're facing on the inside, although you don't actually get any of it to start with. After a brief note from the author explaining how excited he was to have the chance to write a short story featuring a serial killer, we launch into a scenario whereby a car's occupants are introduced to us, slowly, as those trying to find gang boss Mr Jones' 16 year old daughter, Laura, who has become the latest kidnap victim of a serial killer known as 'Sawbones', for his trademark of cutting of girls' arms and legs while they're still alive. Nice guy, huh?
While Sawbones himself is, of course, in the book, the main focus is on the group of four men in the car. The story is told from Mark's perspective. You get the impression he's the level-headed one, with Henry the 'bear you don't poke', Jack the irritating young nutter, and Brian, the ex- boyfriend in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found that what McBride did well was develop these characters through the conversations they have. I believe that telling it in the narrative, from Mark's point of view, also allowed to provide descriptions on the other characters' physical appearances as well as their personalities.
The story develops okay, but it wasn't, by any means, the most convincing read. You get the understanding of what is going on quite well, but need snippets from news reports and flicking between scenes involving the potential rescuers and Laura with Sawbones. There are some unexplained plot developments that McBride manages to gloss over quite well, a need to progress the story quickly superceding a need to justify every element of the story.
That having been said, it's an enjoyable, if somewhat gruesome story. The rather gory side of what Sawbones does is, strangely, softened by presenting the rescuers as violent thugs themselves, a dead FBI agent in the boot, a traffic cop shortly to join him, and them bickering among themselves. Poor Brian has already had a run in with his ex's dad, Mr Jones, leaving him rather lighter in the genitalia department (!) and such description from McBride leaves no surprises when he rather nonchalantly starts describing chunks out of people's legs, torn off limbs and the like. Needless to say, this results in the book not being one for the faint hearted.
Sawbones is part of the Most Wanted short stories series, from Barrington Stoke publishers, and consists of 114 pages of story. Barrington Stoke target reluctant readers and those with dyslexia very well, using their own paper and font, and ensuring wider line spacing for easier reading, and this is commendable. Pricewise, however, their books in general, Sawbones included, retail at £5.99, which I find overly expensive, especially when you consider that the Quick Reads books are a similar length, often longer, and they retail at either £1.99 or £2.99; and the Shades short stories are also considerably less.
Sawbones - Stuart McBride
I have not had a lot of time to read lately and with a huge pile of books to be read this is a bit disappointing. I am a fast reader and like to get a book finished within a few days so tend not to start one when I have busy schedule, because it is so disappointing when I have to put a book down.
However, when I was at the library returning some books of Jakes and looking for a few 'quick reads' for myself I came across this one. When I am choosing a book in the library for myself I always read the blurb, then check the number of pages and the size of the font to see how long it would take me to read it!
This book has 114 pages and is in large font with large margins so I knew it would be quick.
Stuart Macbride is from Aberdeen. His fictional books are mostly crime, set in his home town of Aberdeen. Macbride wanted to write something 'dark and twisted' and so chose to set this novel in Iowa, USA. Macbride has published 7 novels since 2005, this one, Sawbones, being a stand alone, the others being part of a series.
Mr Jones, is one of New York's biggest gangsters and when his 16 year old daughter, Laura is kidnapped by 'Sawbones' a serial killer touring America kidnapped and dismembering young girls while they are still alive. Mr Jones 'employs' some of his mob to find Laura and fearing she may be dead, track down Sawbones. The story follows the guys on a 'road trip' during which they torture potential witnesses and even turn on each other.
**What I think**
I thought that the general plot was okay, it was fast moving and had to be because of the shortness of the novel. This was both a good and a bad thing. Good in that I managed to get through the book in less than 45 minutes, and bad in that we don't really get to know the individual characters in depth. We are not able to see into the mind of the serial killer, or the victim, her family or the guys trying to help her.
It is fairly graphic in places and did make me wince, which takes a lot. This is not for the faint hearted.
Overall I felt that this was okay as a short read book, which I didn't have to think about during the story, there were no twists involved, but was very 'twisted' There was little or no mystery, which I always find enjoyable in a crime novel. This is fast moving and very easy to read.
I would not rave about it but if you after a quick bedtime or bathtime read and like sick, twisted plots then maybe this would suit you. There was a lot of swearing in this book, mostly of the 'F' word.