There are some authors who you know exactly what you're going to get when they release a new book. You know the pitfalls the protagonist will have to struggle with, the characters they will meet etc. With a James Oswald novel, all bets are off. What lies between the covers is a tour de force, a well plotted gripping thriller with heart-stopping action and genuine, likeable characters. 'The Gathering Dark' is no exception.
Oswald writes with his finger firmly on the pulse as the eighth novel in the DI McLean series opens with a timely disaster. A truck drives into a bus stop causing carnage and destroying lives. Regular readers of Oswald's work will know from the off that this is not a tragic accident, nor is it an act of terrorism, but the beginning of a devious and twisted plot that only he can conjure up.
The truck crash is shocking and deftly written. I would like to have seen more of the aftermath, especially from Tony as he witnessed the crash. He has a few bad dreams and a chat to a therapist but it would have been interesting to see him deal with PTSD while working on the case.
As ever with a James Oswald novel, do not try to guess the ending. Here, we have a truly surprising and almost beautiful denouement as the killer is revealed to DI McLean is chilling form. The final chapter is another shocker and sets up more trouble for Tony's complicated life in the next book.
I am a huge James Oswald fan. The McLean series could easily fit into the police procedure genre but there is nothing formulaic about it. These books are dark, unsettling, brilliantly written and have a deliciously ghoulish twist at the end.