Stuart MacBride

Close To The Bone

"Simply put… this is the best book MacBride has written by a long way."


A body is found chained to a stake. Not only is there a burning tyre around its neck but the victim has also been stabbed and strangled. Is this a gangland execution or something even darker?

Someone has started leaving little bones tied up with ribbon outside DI Logan McRae’s home but he has other things on his mind. Rival gangs are fighting a drugs war over territory and product, a pair of teenage lovers have gone missing, someone is going around crippling Asian immigrants and to make matters worse he has been lumbered with an overly ambitious DS, a mountain of paperwork and the attentions of his superiors and a crime boss.

When a second body turns up, it looks as if the murders are connected. To further muddy the waters the murders also resemble the plot of a bestselling novel. Perhaps those knots of bones are more important than Logan realises…

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Stuart MacBride is one of a very few authors whose books clamber immediately to the top of my “to be read” pile. It was with great expectation that I picked up ‘Close to the Bone’ – because it’s almost two years since I last read about McRae and co – would it be as good as previous novels or not? Simply put… this is the best book MacBride has written by a long way. The plot has many strands which are intertwined throughout the novel and are neatly tied up at the end. With so many cases for McRae to solve, the pace is electric throughout as developments follow discoveries. Never is the reader given a break from the relentless driving force which lies beneath the surface of the story. MacBride’s faultless prose is another facet which keeps the pages turning as nary a word is unnecessarily used. McRae appears to be the only intelligent copper in this fantastic story and watching him deal with Steele, Rennie, Chalmers and all the others is a wonderful experience. The only way I can describe it is to imagine Poirot surrounded by the Keystone Cops with Gordon Ramsay’s less polite sister as his boss. DI Steele – who is now an acting DCI – is one of my favourite characters and for the first time in years MacBride has really let her off the leash and let her challenge for the central role. All in all ‘Close to the Bone’ is a masterpiece of hard-boiled writing, shot through with black humour. At times I winced, while on more than one occasion I dropped the book as I was laughing so hard!

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