Sunday, July 4, 2010

great gritty scottish noir from stuart mcbride's latest, dark blood

Dark Blood is classic Stuart McBride; it's gritty Scottish crime thriller at it's best. McBride has been compared favourably with Ian Rankin, and it's easy to see why. 
There's DS Logan McRae, the burnt-out bitter Aberdeen cop with major issues; a very nasty piece of work in sex predator Richard Knox; sundry evil shites – crime bosses, thugs, snitches – and an irritating hard-nosed boss in DI Steel – a lesbian with a filthy mouth, pregnant wife and a thing for pissing Logan off.
All the elements of a good crime thriller are set up in the first pages of Dark Blood. Knox is being released into 'protective custody' in Aberdeen, having been released from jail in Newcastle.
The cops hate the idea of importing a dirty sex maniac, but they can't do anything about it. He comes with a cop of his own, DSI Danby from Northumbria Police, a man with his own agenda.
To top it all off, Logan is having nightmares left over from the last major case he worked on, may be an alcoholic and is probably about to loose his live-in girlfriend. Oh, and the local crime boss is calling him up and giving him money, only he can't think what he might have done to help him out.
McBride's writing is like those fabulous crime series you get on the BBC, it's all accents and local references, slang and grunts, so it can be a little hard-going for some readers. But if you skip past that, Dark Blood is a bit of a page-turner.
The disparate storylines eventually come together is a tightly-woven plot of betrayals, murders and random connections, before arriving at a fairly satisfying end.
If you enjoy a good thriller, and have a hankering for cold, grey, blustery Scotland, then Dark Blood is perfect. There's just enough characterisation to keep you interested in what happens to Logan and DI Steel, but not too much to take away from the action.

Dark Blood by Stuart McBride is published by HarperCollins and is available from good book stores and online. 


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