Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Sometimes the worst thing you can imagine is just the beginning...

Welcome to the Misfit Mob.

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 596
Chapters: 81
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


As an avid lover of books from almost every genre, it can become a bit tedious when reading the same one so much. But, and heavy emphasis on that very shapely but, that tedium can highlight the light within the dark; it can separate the exceptional from the mediocre.

A Dark So Deadly is exceptional.

A tad long, but otherwise a Scottish crime novel that deserves your money and a place on your shelf. MacBride is in top form; an author with a distinct voice and style that completely captures the reader from page one. A Dark So Deadly seems ordinary on the surface, with a standard synopsis that intrigues but doesn't really strike deep. But inside... His dark comedy is genius and his storytelling abilities are impossible to deny.

Telling the tales of underdogs overcoming adversity, lies and corruption poisoning trust, and finding a home in darkness, A Dark So Deadly flicks and flips, doing a damn fine job of entertaining.



It's where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can't get rid of, but wants to: the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it's his job to find out which museum it's been stolen from.

But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting. O Division's Major Investigation Teams already have more cases than they can cope with, so, against everyone's better judgement, the Misfit Mob are just going to have to manage this one on their own.

No one expects them to succeed, but right now they're the only thing standing between the killer's victims and a slow, lingering death. The question is, can they prove everyone wrong before he strikes again?

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

A Dark So Deadly, like its synopsis, has a standard beginning: A sleek introduction that sets the immediate foundations. But a polish entices the reader onward, and that polish is the Misfit Mob, a name that's pretty self-explanatory. MacBride's ragamuffin crew dominate the world with their inextricable links to the plot in all its dank, descriptive glory.

It's not long before things ratchet up a notch, though, and when I say they ratchet, I mean blast off with the force of a hundred rockets. Subplots compliment the core storylines, and while there are plenty of threads wriggling about in frustration for their moment in the limelight, MacBride, like the pro he is, weaves them with a balance that's impossible to fault.

Intense developments blindside the reader, and while the author toes the line between just enough and too much, his steady hand builds a solid story that details realistic and riveting realities people face.

And it's all set in Oldcastle, Scotland, a fictional city that MacBride brings to life.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

At 600 pages, A Dark So Deadly is undoubtedly a beast, but the sheer talent at balancing plots and themes make it a novel that I guarantee is impossible to put down.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

The Misfit Mob, led by the enigmatic 'Mother', is a team of wildly entertaining characters. Their complexities and distinct personalities are to die for. There're even a couple cameos from MacBride's Ash Henderson series, which shares the same world, and it only serves to flesh an already meaty reality. A Dark So Deadly just reaffirms the fact that the author never fails to birth a cast of impeccable talent.

DC Callum MacGregor is our protagonist, and his viewpoint travels with a brash attitude that hides perceptive intelligence. His anger never alienates the reader, and his status as the underdog on a team of underdogs only goes to cement him as a worthy, complicated hero.

Surrounding him are characters like DS McAdams, a man dying of cancer with a predilection for poetry; Franklin, a no-nonsense black woman who fights tooth-and-nail for respect; Dot, a wheelchair-bound copper with a heart of gold; and Watt, the man nobody seems to like, but a man with many layers beneath the surface.

Superb development on individual fronts only makes the Misfit Mob's final cohesion all the more sweet. The twists and turns within the cast's personal lives land like steel punches, and a bond is forged that has you depressed over the standalone nature of the novel.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Give me MacBride's writing any day; heck, give me it every day and I'll thank you like you've given me a gift direct from the gods.

Smooth sentences create vivid imagery and emotions, both of which sync effortlessly with the rapid-fire comedy and gruesome gore that make up this smashing crime experience.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

A spectacular standalone that I hope receives enough praise to give MacBride a reason to write more. 

A Dark So Deadly is addictive, and with the plot's promise wholly fulfilled by a cast with crackling chemistry, it'd be a shame if you missed the ride.

For more Stuart MacBride reviews: Index

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