DS Logan McRae returns once again in a typically dark, gritty, atmospheric and often hilarious novel. MacBride has a splendid knack of knowing how to set the scene for whatever sequence of events he chooses to depict, be it a pair of tired cops on stakeout during a freezing Aberdeen night, the aftermath of savage violence or the bewildering office politics of the Police Station.
McRae is having a torrid time trying to keep the incorrigible DI Steel happy along with the newly promoted DI Beattie who is not up to the job and subsequently lands everything, especially blame, on McRae's shoulders. This has McRae finding solace in a bottle as MacBride adds new layers to his main character and explores some of the issues which concern us all, such as being passed over for a promotion, then getting told what to do by the idiot who got the job that should have been ours.
The villains of the piece are fiendishly twisted and his characterization of Knox and the crimes he committed is a terrifying concept. DI Steel is as magnificent as you would expect from MacBride. Her wife is pregnant and therefore she is not having sex with Steel which causes her to vent her sexual frustration on all around her with some marvellously phrased insults and put downs. I would love to go for a drink with the person who is the inspiration behind this character as it could only be a laugh a minute. All other characters are well portrayed, although McRae's girlfriend seems to be a bit too contrived for my taste.
The plot is fast paced and has a surprising amount of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, although I was not guessing long as I simply could not put the book down!