What’s it about?
Broadly speaking it is about a mother and daughter duo who are the next big thing in reality TV being kidnapped and held to ransom for an unspecified amount of money. Along the way we have a couple of junkies who are in trouble with the local yardies and who are trying to get the police to hand back a large amount of drugs they had confiscated as part of a raid, and the ongoing drama (handbags at dawn type of drama) of the senior officers falling out and squabbling amongst themselves in Grampian Police HQ.
Where is it set?
It is set in the Granite City itself, Aberdeen.
Who are the main characters?
There is a small group of main characters who crop up in each of these books, but the main main character is DS Logan MacRae. He is a put-upon DS at the beck and call of the senior police and always seems to be the one to come off worst with injuries and bad luck happening to him.
How well is it written?
I thought it was pretty well written on the whole, although I did lose track of who was who in the kidnap gang from time to time. There were passages where it was difficult to know who was speaking too – for example, MacRae had called at a block of flats with Rennie and there was a conversation with MacRae on the phone, Rennie on the intercom, an inner dialogue inside MacRae’s head and instructions down his radio from DI Steele. It was difficult to know which bit belonged to who at that point, and it wasn’t the only time either. I think a couple of pages of “he said, she said” dialogue is boring, but now and again we readers do need a bit of a clue please Mr MacBride!
Similarly, the initial set up of the plot lacked a bit of clarity – for example, I didn’t realise until about half way through that Alison, the mother, was of university age. We don’t exactly know how old Jenny the child is either. There is an attempt at describing how old she is, for example with the words she uses in her inner dialogue and the use of “mummy” when she speaks to her mother. That all hints that she’s a “very young child” but it’s never spelled out completely. Perhaps I missed something earlier on, but it was something that really confused me.
The plot was intricate enough to keep me interested but not too complicated where I lost any care for the characters involved which suited me. There was a lot of characters to contend with, but I think without that many, the story and plot would have been a bit too one-dimensional. The only problem I had with characters is that there were two that looked very similar as I skim-read them. I don’t really take notice of what character’s names are and when I get up to speed with reading I only really take in their initial letter, so having a Banks and a Book or an Alison and an Amanda doesn’t really do me any favours!
My overall impression?
I had got about half way through this before I read any reviews on Amazon and I was really surprised to find that most reviewers had given it 3 or less stars. I don’t know why that was because I thought it was a great book – a good story, characters that were only just on the caricature side of being believable, some really dark humour, a believable setting, convincing dialogue… it had everything I look for in a crime thriller.
Will I read the next in the series?
Already downloaded it, so yes! The ending of this one leaves a big cliff-hanger, if you pardon the pun, with MacRae’s girlfriend Sam. I have to know what happens to her.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
I would recommend it to people who aren’t squeamish about their blood and guts crime thrillers (there’s a lot of both in this), and I would probably advise people to read the first in the series before they read this one. The first is Cold Granite, and it lays down a lot of the reasons behind the way MacRae is the way he is. You don’t have to read it to totally get it to understand this one, but it might help. And it is another cracking good read in its own right anyway so go for it if you like.