Friday, 22 January 2016

The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride (Logan McRae, #9) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

One mistake can cost you everything...


Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 581
Chapters: 63
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website



The Missing and the Dead signals a lot of change: The policing body of Scotland has restructured and become a collective known as Police Scotland (something that happened in reality also); Logan's position within the organisation has been altered; the location has been moved; and rules and regulations force our protagonist into helpless moral conundrums.

Despite all this, MacBride keeps his trademark wit and humour, his cracking cast and the sensational story they drive. This entry, with its differences, feels fresh and invigorated, packed full of some of the best plots in a crime novel.

And that resolution? Come on, Mr MacBride, what are you trying to do to me?


Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Detective Inspector Logan McRae catches a depraved killer and closes a high-profile case.
All in a day's work, right?
There's gotta be celebrations and champagne, right?
Instead of thanks, Logan is given a 'development opportunity', a fancy way of saying demotion.
Pushed out to the rural communities in Aberdeenshire, his most pressing concerns involve wayward livestock and small-time drug dealers.
Until a dead little girl washes up on his turf.
Pushed to the side by a Major Investigation Team, Logan can't shake the case.
And the web-like strands it holds...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

After hitting the ground at a flat-out sprint, MacBride dials it back a few notches in preparation for the wealth of stories he has in store. Initially, I was worried; it can take a bit to find your feet as you adapt to the structure. But, and a big but at that, everything pays off in a big way. Once the reader hits their stride it's all riveting dilemmas and sarcasm up to the roof.

You fall in love with the myriad of cases Logan has to deal with, and instead of feeling cluttered, MacBride gifts us with his trademark grit and buckets of realism. Ever wondered how Police Scotland operates? (At least roughly, there are of course creative exaggerations.) Well the author takes care to be loyal with his information.

The Missing and the Dead also perfects its quality of being both a standalone and a continuation, especially over previous entries. When it comes to past events, MacBride is concise and clear, giving the reader everything they need to know without them having to go back first (even though I completely think you should, this series has been fantastic).

And the twists? Yes! Give me some of those destructive turns. The saga of poor Samantha continues, her having woken up from her coma, only to be left in a vegetative state. The heartbreak and emotion, not only for long-time readers, are heavy. The way her connection to Logan drags her into this story in a near-death way is pulse-pounding.

And when you're done with all the plots within, The Missing and the Dead hits you with a baseball bat of buggery. The morality concerning the paedophile ring and the dead little girl is truly horrific. MacBride opens that diseased can of worms, and the reader feels it like rot in their stomach.

Then we reach the end, the most terrifying, action-packed and emotionally intense resolution the author has ever done.

I'm still reeling.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

The Missing and the Dead is hefty at 581 pages, and it's definitely a slow burner. That's not a con, though. The structure with its dark nooks and crannies cements it as a novel you want to explore for as long as possible. It's a joy to read.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

With the changes in destination, comes changes for the cast. This entry in the series sees a lot of newcomers, some more memorable than others, but Logan and Steel are still the dynamic duo. I wholly stand by the opinion that, even if there were no story to a Logan/Steel novel, their interactions are strong enough to keep everything afloat. Two of the best characters in the crime genre. Period.

We've followed McRae through dark, dark days, and while still the hero of the story, he has come mighty close to crossing that black/white line. The Missing and the Dead almost pushes him over the edge, especially with Samantha's involvement. Ironically, it's also her that pulls him back, well, Logan's memory of her, and in those moments we see the horrible effects Logan's line of work weighs him down with. His morality is in a never-ending battle.

The rest of the cast are, as I said, memorable and not-so-memorable. The villains, and there are plenty, are wonderfully written. Some you empathise with, others you hate beyond belief. But overall everything in this novel works.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Three words, folks: Bloody. Brilliant. MacBride.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

A whopper of a novel that hits the spot with deadly accuracy.

Previous Instalment: Close to the Bone
Next Instalment: In the Cold Dark Ground

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