‘In the Cold Dark Ground’ by Stuart MacBride

The wait has been long but it was worth it. Another stunning book from Mr MacBride. It has everything you want from a Logan McRae story, twists, turns and misdirections galore along with the wit and banter that you come to expect of any story featuring our hapless hero and DCI Steel.

So Logan is still out in the sticks, still running B division, still not quite having managed to finish repairs to his house. Compared to Aberdeen CID, the pace in the boondocks is frantic (is there a bigger police crisis known to man than the vending machine running out of chocolate?). Logan and his team are busy protecting the streets of Banff and Macduff and trying to prevent the Great Bacon & Cheese robbery, while also coordinating the search for a missing local businessman, a search which turns up something very unexpected in the woods. Enter stage left Steel and her Major Investigation Team including the ever odd Rennie, and the stage is set for another entertaining tale.

Throw in a Superintendent from Serious Crimes, who seems to take an instant dislike to Logan, the reason for which you won’t see coming, a tragic side tale many stories in the making, a healthy dose of double crossing, the rapidly ailing Wee Hamish Mowat and Logan’s new ‘bestest buddy’ Reuben right at his throat (guts, face, back shoulder – anything is a fair target really…) and a cameo appearance by Malk the Knife, and the few short days the story is set over may well be some of the longest in Logan’s life.

Honestly, I kind of want Logan to catch a break sometime, and the guy has more lives than a cat, deftly proven again in this story several times – they don’t call him Lazarus for no reason. But then again, you kind of don’t want him to have it easy, as it’s almost more fun that way. With Steel’s, how shall we say, unorthodox approach to policing under the spotlight from the Ginger Whinger Napier, it makes you wonder what the future holds for this unlikely pairing. The ending may surprise some, but I have to say it’s left me wanting to read more and desperate to see what is next for the dear, battered and (apparently) big eared Logan McRae.

The writing is excellent, the descriptions of the characters and the setting are in MacBride’s unique style (can’t see the Banff & Buchan Tourist Board being thrilled with the way the weather is described – having been to Aberdeen and Banff in the dead of winter it’s absolutely accurate but doesn’t exactly say come up and see us sometime) and there were, for me at least, some real laugh out loud moments. Steel’s obsession with food never diminishes and there is double crossing galore – you won’t know who to trust.

If you love Logan and Steel as I do, you’ll no’ be disappointed by this tale. So grab yourself a dram of Sporran McGutRot (unless you’ve got £49k lying around and fancy a bottle of Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection), sit back and savour the moment.

5 stars

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