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Shatter the bones is the sixth and so far latest novel by Scottish author Stuart Macbride featuring the much troubled police sergeant Logan McRae. The books are set in a modern usually wet Aberdeen and are very much in the Inspector Rebus Scottish realism mode, though there tends to be more humour and more outlandish characters for the reader to get his teeth into.
At the end of the previous book we left McRae falling apart, he is struggling with alcoholism, doubts about his police career and a failing relationship. He is also in the pay of the local criminal don and doubts he will be alive much longer if he keeps stepping on powerful underworld toes.
Shatter the bones is his latest outing and like all Macbride novels it begins with a bang, in this latest outing a mother and daughter have been taken by kidnappers. They are the stars of the newest hottest reality singing show and there capture subsequent notes and such is being following by a media on the edge of chaos. So it is McRae's role to find out what has happened to the two, under the world weary DI Steele he has to juggle his strained home life with investigating Scotland highest profile case for the last 20 years.
This novel like all the other McRae novels features a decadent, corrupt Aberdeen, a dissolute diffident population and a population obsessed with self, TV and the uselessness of the police force. So when the pair are snatched and a series of increasingly goading letters are sent to the police, media and to the families of the taken we are transported into a surreal world where a Simon Cowell type character is a god, where media exposure is king and all is destroyed in the hunt for money, power and position.
With all this social comment and underhand pointing at the uselessness of the police force is a healthy chunk of dark humour, the author continues his traditions of creating dark compelling police officers, so along with the chain smoking, lesbian, mother of Logan's daughter, bacon butties eating DI Steele, we have the pompous head of police internal affairs, the snarling head of CID and the delightfully urbane head of the serious crimes squad. All portrayed in slightly over the top Technicolor, you suspect that anyone of these characters in a police force would soon make the whole force notorious but to have them all there is a joy to read and the interactions between the extremes and the fairly level headed McRae always raises a smile.
The book does need it because under the fairly liberal scope of the initial investigation we encounter child abuse, petrol attacks on McRae's home, and the lengths characters in this book will go to being on the big screen. Anyone for X factor on a Saturday wonder about the people who are terrible singers wish to display their terribleness on the world, or are we wrong for watching?
Overall this is a solid McRae novel, not my favourite but not the worst one either and we finally start to see some light at the end of the tunnel for Logan. It's just a shame I've got to wait for the next one after reading all 6 in a period of a couple of months over the summer, all thanks to my mum who recommended one of his first novels.
As with all the novels there are caveats to reading them, they are explicit, the language bad and the subject matter can upset some so if you're a bit squeamish, easily offended or don't like the baser end of the human spirit then best keeping well away. Why not read an Agatha Raisin novel and convince yourself we are all living in the mid 1930's, but if you want to read a bit of gritty hard hitting modern crime writing give this and the other novels in the series a go and you'll be pleasantly surprised, what more do you want?