Close To The Bone by Stuart MacBride

Close To The BoneTwo years have passed since the traumatic events of Shatter The Bones and Logan MacRae is now acting-Detective Inspector of the Aberdeen CID. With his boss constantly on his back, a new pushy Detective Sergeant to deal with and his girlfriend pestering him to get a kitten, the last thing he needs is a vicious killer on the prowl…

So when someone is found “necklaced” – strangled, stabbed and shoved into a rubber tyre before being set on fire – a young couple vanishes, a gang war begins to kick off, Logan has his hands full. And when things start to become linked to the production of a film based on a book with a lot of dedicated fans, that’s when things get complicated…

I’ve read all of the Logan MacRae series – this is the most recent, and the preceding book, Shatter The Bones is reviewed here. That book was outstanding, in my opinion – it got my Book Of The Month for December last year – but the series has been a little up and down before then. The books are always entertaining, if you find MacBride’s line in black humour and sometimes exceptionally grim violence are your sort of thing. There’s a line where Logan summarises all of the bad things that have happened to him that I won’t repeat for fear of spoilers, but basically, if it’s bad, then it’s probably happened to our hero at some point in his life.

The oddest thing is that despite the extremes, Logan MacRae is such a believable character. Some of the supporting cast – acting DCI Steel for example – do veer towards comic caricature at times, but it’s MacRae who holds the whole thing together and makes it work.

But… I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the predecessor. With a lot going on, I found the plot lacked a single act to focus on. The kidnapping in the previous book dominated events and everything circulated around them. Here, without that focal event, it’s hard to know what event to concentrate on. The whodunit element was a little disappointing – to be fair, I don’t think MacBride intended to this to be a major part of the narrative – but after the clever tricks of Shatter The Bones, it fell a little flat for me. Having said that, I’ll still be looking out for the next developments in  Logan’s life.

But it’s an entertaining read and ardent followers of the series will undoubtedly love it. And it’s got a kitten in it, so plus points there, if only for proving that not every crime book with a kitten in it needs to be a cozy mystery. I’d recommend reading the series in order to get the most out of it, though.

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