Shatter the Bones – Stuart MacBride

Setting: Aberdeen, Scotland. (Cold, wet, windy. And that’s the summer.)

Story: An Aberdeen mother and daughter reality TV sensation – competing on “Britain’s Next Big Star” – are kidnapped. The random demand goes public with a deadline for the ransom pot to be be big enough, or else. There are no clues, and DS Logan McRae and Grampian Police are drowning in the center of the media storm. If that were not enough, there’s a drugs bust, some avenging drug dealers, and other nasty stuff. And let’s not forget the police politics. Then a severed toe turns up…

Good Stuff: The author knows how to deliver a page turner packed with action, gritty violence, and human foibles in a way that will get most readers to the end of the book satisfied with their adventure. There are some nice comic touches, but often more tragic than comic.

Not So Good Stuff: MacBride can deliver the rush, but he is so busy doing that, he fails to deliver the added quality that would catapult him to the top of the tree. There is something missing in this book, though I am not sure what it is. Perhaps, it’s McRae’s character which seems to go on and on and on, enduring setback after setback, abuse after abuse, but keeps coming back for more without a noticeable change. Or, perhaps it is that I feel MacBride has more to say about the world his characters inhabit, but he is holding back. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book. But it’s not going to allow the author to challenge Peter Temple or Michael Connelly, for example.

Score: 7.5/10

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