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by Stuart MacBride
HarperCollins, January 2007
Abridged audio pages
13.99 GBP
ISBN: 0007216815

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Detective Sergeant Logan Lazarus McRae of Aberdeen, Scotland, is detailed to the Grampian Policeís 'Screw-up Squad' after leading a raid on a warehouse that leaves one officer hospitalized in a coma. Loganís new commander is Detective Inspector Steel, a chain-smoking female cop who expects him to work night and day, much to the dismay of his girlfriend and fellow officer Jackie Watson.

The case heís involved in is a brutal one. Prostitute Rosie Williams has been found savagely beaten to death. Suspicion immediately falls on Rosieís boyfriend, a small-time drug dealer and thief. Pulled in by Logan, the man is jailed despite his protestations of innocence and apparent true love for Rosie.

Steel wants a quick close to the case, but Logan isnít convinced they have the right man. His suspicions prove accurate when the body of another murdered prostitute is found. Under pressure from a local politician, Steel sends Logan and other officers on all-night excursions into Aberdeenís red-light district in hope of catching the killer.

Meanwhile, someone has nailed shut the doors of a drug den and set fire to the building, killing the six people inside. Hoping to return to his previous position, Logan keeps tabs on the progress made by his old squad when theyíre assigned to the case. His interest in the arson investigation leads him to contact a newspaperman whoís currently bedding Loganís ex-girlfriend Isobel.

A pathologist, Isobel is intimately involved with both the arson and the murder of Rosie Williams. Logan pushes it too far, though, and the newsman is brutally attacked after introducing Logan to a powerful land developer. Digging deeper into the developerís background, Logan links the man to the same politician who criticized DI Steelís handling of the Williams case.

A second arson and the death of a prisoner increase the pressure put on the police to solve the cases. Logan and the Screw-up Squad work around the clock to find both the owner of a SUV seen cruising the streets of the red-light district and a young prostitute who may be able to identify the murderer. At the same time, Logan continues to dig into the arson case, involving Jackie in some unofficial sleuthing that leads to a bloody and decisive confrontation on a dark Aberdeen street.

MacBrideís first book, COLD GRANITE, won the 2006 Barry Award for Best First Novel. This second in the Logan series confirms what both the critics and the fans are saying: MacBride is a rising star who writes crime fiction with the suave hand of an old pro.

Logan is a compelling protagonist who escapes the faults given to so many fictional police heroes, that of despair, drunkenness, and/or complete cynicism. Like the other members of the Screw-up Squad, heís sometimes confident, sometimes troubled, sometimes totally unsure of himself, and always very real. DI Steel is as abrasive as sandpaper, but still comes across as a totally dedicated professional. The city of Aberdeen comes alive as a character in its own right, a dark and often ugly character, but a believable one in every way.

Most remarkable, though, is the way MacBride weaves several subplots into the story and ultimately ties them into the main plot to produce a truly realistic police procedural. While that alone makes this book a standout, John Sessionsí delightful brogue and skillful reading takes the story over the top. This winning combination of MacBride and Sessions should delight those who enjoy gritty crime tales dished up in a suspenseful yet totally realistic manner.

Reviewed by Mary V. Welk, November 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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