Stuart MacBride






Harpers Collins, 2005
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

What is it about Scotland that turns out so many fine crime fiction writers? Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith, Christopher Brookmyre, and now perhaps Stuart MacBride, if his debut book is anything to go by.

It's the first day back at work after many months of convalescence for Detective Sergeant Logan McRae of the Aberdeen CID, who was attacked with a knife and stabbed many times.  He's supposed to be easing himself back into things slowly, but with his immediate superior injured and several members of CID away on a training course, Logan is thrown in the deep end. He not only has a new and unknown Detective Inspector as his boss, but also little children are turning up dead. There's nothing worse than dealing with the murder of a little child. The first, found in a ditch, murdered and mutilated, dead for quite some time. And then there's the body of an unknown male found floating in the River Don with his kneecaps hacked off. If that's not bad enough, it's the middle of a very cold, wet Aberdeen winter and the chief pathologist is Logan McRae's former girlfriend. The reception she gives him at the morgue is even chillier than the weather outside.

As the book follows DS McRae through the investigation, we meet his co-workers: WPC Watson (the "ball-breaker" assigned to babysit him), the sweet eating Detective Inspector Insch who doesn't suffer fools and thinks everyone is a fool, and the colourful womaniser, DI Steel. McRae has to get used to being back at work, his new work colleagues, and do his best to help crack the cases on which he is working. There's also a new journalist in town working for the tabloid newspaper. The cocky sod is being fed inside information on the cases and McRae is one of the chief suspects.

COLD GRANITE is set in Aberdeen, which is a major base for many of the North Sea oil platforms. The reader is given a very strong sense of the place and in particular the weather. In fact there is such a strong sense of both, that they are almost another character in the book.

COLD GRANITE is an example of UK police procedural at its best. While the subject matter is dark and sometimes chilling, most of the characters are very likeable and there is a surprising amount of humour in a book with a theme this dark.  We are taken into all areas of investigation: the uniform branch doing the donkey work, profiling, forensic lab, and even dealing with grieving parents. If COLD GRANITE is any indication, Stuart MacBride may well join the ranks of Rankin, McDermid, McCall Smith et al.

Stuart MacBride's second DS Logan McRae book, DYING LIGHT, is due to be published in the UK in May, 2006.

Jan 2006 Review first published on Murder and Mayhem


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