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21 February 2015

Stuart Macbride: Cold Granite

DS Logan Macrae - back from the dead
This is Stuart Macbride's award winning debut police novel set in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is a corker and a great start to a great series.

DS Logan Macrae is back at work after a year off sick from near-fatal stab wounds to his abdomen from an earlier case. Macrae really doesn't get time to settle back before he is in the middle of a hunt a for a child killer in the very chilly, damp and wet December streets of Aberdeen (dubbed "Granite City" for its stark and grim buildings). Macbride makes it even more forbidding with descriptions of constant buckets of icy rain and chilling winds.

As well as hunting for the killer Macrae is plagued by important leaks to the press that affect his case, especially when the parents of a murdered child are told about his death by the press. He also has to adjust to a station house where most people have changed since he was there last. Those who remain call him "Lazarus" (who was restored to life by Jesus) because of his remarkable recovery.

I really liked the police characters. DI Inch, Logan's temporary boss who is always eating jelly babies and similar sweets; DI Steel, a chain-smoking foul-mouthed lesbian who is as tough as her name; and very efficient but beautiful WPC Jackie Watson (nicknamed "Ball Breaker" for her strength in dealing with difficult male offenders).

The story is a very gritty and clever police procedural set in atmospheric cold and chilly conditions. The characters are superbly described, and the plot is devious. Warning - some descriptions of bodies, especially decomposed ones, could offend sensitive readers.

IMHO there is nothing better in the world of mystery/thrillers than a top UK police procedural. I finished this book with a feeling that I had discovered one of the best and the start of a great new series - I can't wait to read the next one.

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