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COLD GRANITE
by Stuart MacBride
St Martin's Minotaur, July 2005
464 pages
$24.95
ISBN: 031233995X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DS Logan McRae is back on the job after a year off recovering from severe stomach wounds inflicted when he tried to arrest a criminal. He is supposed to be starting slowly, but on his first day back, in cold pouring rain, he is standing in a field looking at the body of a murdered almost four-year-old boy, who had been strangled, raped, and mutilated, and dead for about three months, before he was found in a water filled ditch.

McRae's ex-girlfriend, chief pathologist Isobel MacAlister is called to the scene and will perform the autopsy. Logan reports back to the station, only to find out his DI has been injured and he will be under the supervision of DI Insch, a man with some very strange habits and mannerisms.

Insch assigns PC Jackie 'Ballbreaker' Watson, as his driver and baby-sitter, and warns McRae not to go anywhere without her. As they are short of staff, Insch assigns DS McRae to head up the murder inquiry. Then a five-year-old, Richard Erskine, is reported missing and a body is found in a black trash bag. They go to see it.

It is raining, as it always seems to be in Aberdeen. The author further sets the scene: "Behind the approaching van, the North Sea raged, grey and huge, the frigid wind making its first landfall since the Norwegian fjords."

The body is not that of Richard, but that of a three or four-year-old girl, nude, wrapped in packing tape and dumped with the bin liner, into a dumpster, then onto the tip, when the larger container was emptied. Watson finds a receipt in the bag which is traceable.

Insch at first seems to be a strange, incompetent copper -- always stuffing his mouth with sweeties, but he turns out to be an excellent administrator with his own way of dealing with cops who step out of line. The book is filled with well rounded characters, the unique environment that is Aberdeen, and it is very fast-paced. It is a remarkable first novel, published almost simultaneously in the UK (May 2005) and the US (July 2005). Keep an eye out for it. You won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, March 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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