The Missing and The Dead – Stuart MacBride

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imageOne mistake can cost you everything.

When you catch a twisted killer there should be a reward, right? What Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae gets instead is a ‘development opportunity’ out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire. Welcome to divisional policing – catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped animal.

Then a little girls body washes up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive manhunt. The Major Investigation Team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don’t care who they trample over to get them.

Logan’s got enough on his plate keeping B division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team. As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.

One thing’s clear: there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone’s going to get out alive.

His best yet….

In keeping with the changes to Scottish policing over the last few years, MacBride has given protagonist McRae a ‘development opportunity’ in the back of beyond, and it’s one of his most brilliant moves yet. It has opened up the way for a great new cast of characters, good and bad alike, to meet and discover,  like Klingon and Gerbil,  Deano, Nicholson and my person favourite, Constable ‘Tufty’ Quirrell.  (particularly as I’m old enough to remember the ‘Tufty’ club… ahem… onwards)

At the same time we haven’t lost the books best character (aside from protagonist McRae obvs), the brilliant DCI Roberta Steel. In The Missing And The Dead, she is as grizzly, cantankerous and as non politically correct as ever, while she does what she does best, helping McRae every which way she can, even if it never seems so at the time.

The backdrop of the normality of everyday policing that features throughout the books is also a real breath of fresh air when it comes to police procedurals, against the starkness of the crimes being investigated, it almost comes as ‘light relief’ and yet never takes away its seriousness, or the important part it plays in the plot.

Speaking of the plotting, as always it is sublime, as intricately woven as ever, with not a wasted anecdote amongst those told.  Everything fits together perfectly.  This is one series that does nothing but improve, nine McRae novels in and MacBride has gone from strength to strength with The Missing and The Dead being quite simply his best yet.

 

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