Everyone deserves a second chance...
Book Links: Goodreads
Six books in to MacBride's dark detective series and he still manages to weave an enthralling tale. The plot is thrilling, intricate and leaves no questions in its resolution; the characters remain some of the most engaging bunch in crime fiction, with new members being introduced as if they've always been there; and the author's writing is enviably brilliant.
As a lot of the covers say: BLOODY. BRILLIANT. MACBRIDE.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Gang wars are rampant as one tries to outdo the other.
Richard Knox, a violent rapist, has been released under protection in Aberdeen.
And guess who has the whole lot to worry about?
Yep, DS Logan McRae.
Swamped in cases and reeling from his past, Logan wonders about his future on the job.
Although, he might not have to worry long.
His bad attitude has riled up his colleagues, and Logan's one step away from being sacked.
And that's if his cases don't kill him...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
One mega-gangster trying to muscle in on another mega-gangster's turf; a sick, twisted predator back in the free public; and poor Logan shouldering most of the work. Yep, things get tense. MacBride's usual structure of exhilarating detective work is as stellar as ever. The story unfolds with answers and developments every so often to retain your interest and the progression to the end and definitive answers is fun and hilarious.
There are several nods to previous events in other books, but the author keeps Dark Blood, like his other novels, a standalone for those not reading chronologically.
Pace - 4.5/5 Stars
Dark Blood flows fine, some dips here and there, but MacBride's magic with gritty realism and characters like McRae and Steel never loses its gold standard.
There are sometimes too many jumps, going from one event to the next, and it can be jarring in cases.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
The real meat this time round. The author makes a risky move by darkening our main character Logan, but it works wonders. I love his spiral in this entry. It's not a surprise: Logan's been through the ringer over the course of the series, and his sarky, clipped attitude is a breath of fresh air. It's also goddamn warranted. McRae has always seemed like the only sensible copper doing any work, and in this entry he's yet again saddled with the majority of it.
The big surprise for me is the reveal that Logan's in bed with Aberdeen's criminal mastermind Wee Hamish Mowat. Is our righteous officer crooked? It's definitely a thread I'm looking forward to continuing.
Out of the plethora of well-sculpted cast members, Steel, Finnie and this entry's villain Richard Knox, are the best, with the latter being a moral conundrum and the former two giving Dark Blood some hilarious humour. This series has a cast you grow close to (still waiting to hear how Insch is getting on).
It also highlights how MacBride doesn't just reset his characters when a new novel springs to mind. He's thorough in his balance of making each book self-contained while following a progression ardent fans are waiting for. Past entries have had an effect on our cast, and those little moments are great. The characters feel layered and whole, rather than cut-outs going through the same motions story after story.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Love, love, love MacBride's style of writing. The gallows humour and Scottish colloquialisms give this dark story a foot in reality. It's just so easy and seamless.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
To those reading the series, it remains awesome; to those thinking of picking it up, get to it!
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