Stuart MacBride – True Grit in Crime Fiction.



So, having a book blog is great, but sometimes you forget why you started one in the first place – Over the years I have read some terrific crime fiction of which Mr Macbride has been a huge part and yet, so far, I have not waxed lyrical about how much I enjoy them. So here we go.

I shall tell you about the Logan McRae series and for an overview lets look at the first, followed by my favourite, followed by the most recent. And hopefully if you have not yet  experienced these, this will inspire you to do so.



DS Logan McRae and the police in Aberdeen hunt a child killer who stalks the frozen streets. Winter in Aberdeen: murder, mayhem and terrible weather!

It’s DS Logan McRae’s first day back on the job after a year off on the sick, and it couldn’t get much worse. Four-year-old David Reid’s body is discovered in a ditch, strangled, mutilated and a long time dead. And he’s only the first. There’s a serial killer stalking the Granite City and the local media are baying for blood.

So if you go back in time a few years, to 2007 (yes I was a bit late to the party) you would find me wandering aimlessly around my local bookshop wondering what to pick up. I came across Cold Granite, read the blurb and thought – ok I’ll give this a try. Well thank heavens for that. Mr Macbride writes with wit and dark humour, places you so firmly in the setting (Aberdeen) that even if you have never been there you will feel you know it well and gives us Logan McRae – recovering from sick leave and thrust into the heart of an emotional investigation.

I laughed as much as I cried, and Logan quickly became one of those characters you long to meet in real life – cautiously optimistic, always in some sort of trouble, full of heart and soul and often annoying in a whimsical fashion that makes you sigh.

The story is all consuming, a side story gives you a taste of things to come as far as the development of Logan’s character goes, the supporting cast are all so realistic that they jump off the page and once you are there, trust me you won’t be leaving anytime soon. I still havent left the party – I hope it continues for a long long time.



The city is in a state of fear. Some 20 years ago, the Grampian police nailed a particularly vicious serial killer known as The Flesher, a monster who had claimed victims throughout the country. But one of those frequent legal appeals which so often release dangerous criminals into the community has freed him, and when a container with human body parts appears at Aberdeen harbour, it looks like the stage is once again set for carnage on a massive scale.

Ok, lets fast forward a bit to Book 4. I’m listing this as my favourite – but perhaps I should say its the one that stays with me still rather than necessarily being favourite – readers will know what I mean. The subject matter being highly disturbing, the pace of this one being frenetic and all engrossing, Logan facing some rather horrible consequences and the sheer terror that forms in your heart while reading, makes it still for me, one of the best Logan McRae novels so far. But thats not to say there were not great things to come…




The first body is chained to a stake: strangled, and stabbed, with a burning tyre around its neck. But is this a gangland execution or something much darker?

Someone’s leaving little knots of bones outside Detective Inspector Logan McRae’s house, but he’s got more pressing things to worry about. Rival drug gangs are fighting over product and territory; two teenage lovers are missing; someone’s crippling Asian immigrants; and Logan’s been lumbered with an ambitious new Detective Sergeant, a mountain of paperwork, and the unwelcome attention of his superiors and the local crime boss.


The latest Logan McRae is one I can’t say too much about – Logan’s backstory and the things that have happened to him and his fellow characters over the course of the novels plays quite a big part in the side story here and I would not spoil it for you for all the chocolate in the world (well, ok, if you offer me ALL the chocolate in the world I might whisper in your ear…but only you mind)

Suffice to say once more, the criminal investigation is intelligent and compelling, Logan as always faces himself as much as he does the criminals he is chasing and by the end of this one I was in tears. Yes actual tears. Mr MacBride may represent true grit in crime fiction but you could also say he manages time and time again to pull of the true heart of crime fiction – where you genuinely and emotionally care for and adore the characters to the point where what happens to them happens to you. I was bereft. And I really cannot wait to find out where Logan goes from here…

In the meantime though – somewhere in there Mr MacBride also gave us this.



Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: home-made, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.

The tabloids call him ‘The Birthday Boy’. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his home-made cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.

But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards – they all think she’s just run away from home – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves…


If Logan McRae is a character you love to love, Ash Henderson is a character you love to hate…or love…or possibly both. I still have not made up my mind. This was a fantabulous story with a very dark heart  – and I’m still undecided whether its Mr Hendersons heart that made it dark or the killers…either way I read this one in a single sitting, heading into the early hours of the morning with matchsticks propping my eyes open as there was no way I was sleeping until I was done. Then of course I wasnt sleeping at all – this one has one of those terrific endings that undo you and that keeps invading your mind during the most inappropriate times as you are trying to decide in your head whether it was what you wanted or not…yes I’m being enigmatic. Read it and see for yourself!

Now, I thought we would not see Ash again but apparently and in a move that makes this reader an EXTREMELY happy bunny, Mr MacBride’s up and coming novel “A Song For the Dying” see’s him making a return appearance. And never have I been more pleased – I think. We’ll see – perhaps by the end of this one I will have an actual opinion on a character that is sure to divide reading opinion. Not many authors pull that one off. Stuart MacBride has…

Now I need bring my chronic impatience under control. Or perhaps attempt some bribery of my lovely friends Kate and Bob at Harper Collins for when and if some review copies become available – Are you reading this Kate and Bob? Oooh I’m blatant!


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Happy Reading Folks!


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