The Missing and the Dead – Stuart MacBride

This is turbo charged, all action, wise-cracking, crime fiction, with a 100% Scottish flavor and setting, that never lets up. It’s number nine in the Logan McRae series, and has a well established core conflict (of sorts) between McRae and DCI Steel, the latter being one half of a lesbian couple whose children McRae has fathered. You might say it has a modern flavor, too!

In this book, there is a drug ring, and a crew of cash machine robbers that the police are trying to break. And all the time, as the book reminds us, the usual day to day crimes continue: vandalism, muggings, drunk driving, domestic abuse, and not forgetting the challenge of demented pensioners, and escaping cattle. It’s a rich blend. Unfortunately, on top of this, there’s the body of a six year old girl washed up on the coast, and the search for her identity and killer is far from straightforward. Logan becomes involved with a young mother who worries that the dead girl might be her own, taken some years before.

There is, in short, a lot going on. And the author does a masterful job of holding it together, with slick pacing, neat twists, a mix of police competitiveness and politics, some cracking dialogue, and a fine eye for twists and turns.

It’s the dialogue that gets noticed, but the author has a wonderful eye for observation, and an even better turn of descriptive phrase that repeatedly adds to the atmosphere, and the sense of realism.

This is a chunky, gutsy, and thoroughly enjoyable book.