EXCERPT: He brought the torch round, sweeping across the skeleton branches and bone trunks.
A pair of eyes glittered back at him, too far away to make out anything but their reflected glow.
He stayed where he was. ‘Stalin? Stalin, that you?’
No answering bark. No response at all. Whatever it was just stayed there, staring at him from the darkness.
‘Hmph.’ Nicholas pulled his chin up. ‘Well, what are you then? A fox, or a badger?’
And that’s when he feels it. A …. presence. There’s someone behind him!
The smoky tang of whisky catches in his nostrils as they step in close, their breath warm against his cheek.
His mouth dries, pulse stabbing its way through his throat.
There’s a papery rustling sound. Then a cold metallic one as a ghost white arm appears from behind Nicholas, painfully bright in the torch’s glow. The arm holds an axe, the blade chipped and brown with rust.
‘A fox or a badger?’ A small laugh. ‘Oh, I’m something much, much worse.’
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Inspector Logan McRae was looking forward to a nice simple case – something to ease him back into work after a year off on the sick. But the powers-that-be have other ideas…
The high-profile anti-independence campaigner, Professor Wilson, has gone missing, leaving nothing but bloodstains behind. There’s a war brewing between the factions for and against Scottish Nationalism. Infighting in the police ranks. And it’s all playing out in the merciless glare of the media. Logan’s superiors want results, and they want them now.
Someone out there is trying to make a point, and they’re making it in blood. If Logan can’t stop them, it won’t just be his career that dies.
MY THOUGHTS: Classic MacBride. Plenty of black humour, a twisted plot showing off the worst of humankind, and quirky characters, all overlaid by a veneer of normality.
I am always excited by the advent of a new addition to this series. And All That’s Dead certainly doesn’t disappoint. Graphic, grisly, but strangely enchanting, MacBride weaves his web entangling the reader in a desperate chase to catch an elusive and deadly chameleon.
THE AUTHOR: The life and times of a bearded write-ist.
Stuart MacBride (that’s me) was born in Dumbarton — which is Glasgow as far as I’m concerned — moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musical notes (why the hell couldn’t they have taught us the notes in the first bloody place? I could have been performing my earth-shattering rendition of ‘Three Blind Mice’ at the Albert Hall by now!); appeared in some bizarre World War Two musical production; did my best to avoid eating haggis and generally ran about the place a lot.
Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill — a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen — where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat’s doodad.
And so to UNIVERSITY, far too young, naive and stupid to be away from the family home, sharing a subterranean flat in one of the seedier bits of Edinburgh with a mad Irishman, and four other bizarre individuals. The highlight of walking to the art school in the mornings (yes: we were students, but we still did mornings) was trying not to tread in the fresh bloodstains outside our front door, and dodging the undercover CID officers trying to buy drugs. Lovely place.
But university and I did not see eye to eye, so off I went to work offshore. Like many all-male environments, working offshore was the intellectual equivalent of Animal House, only without the clever bits. Swearing, smoking, eating, more swearing, pornography, swearing, drinking endless plastic cups of tea… and did I mention the swearing? But it was more money than I’d seen in my life! There’s something about being handed a wadge of cash as you clamber off the minibus from the heliport, having spent the last two weeks offshore and the last two hours in an orange, rubber romper suit / body bag, then blowing most of it in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. And being young enough to get away without a hangover.
Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small ‘a’), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living.
It was about this time I fell into bad company — a blonde from Fife who conned me into marrying her — and started producing websites for a friend’s fledgling Internet company. From there it was a roller coaster ride (in that it made a lot of people feel decidedly unwell) from web designer to web manager, lead programmer, team lead and other assorted technical bollocks with three different companies, eventually ending up as a project manager for a global IT company.
But there was always the writing (well, that’s not true, the writing only started two chapters above this one). I fell victim to that most dreadful of things: peer pressure. Two friends were writing novels and I thought, ‘why not? I could do that’.
Took a few years though…
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of All That’s Dead by Stuart MacBride, narrated by Steve Worsley, and published by Harper Collins Audio. All opinions expressed in this reveiw are entirely my own personal opinions.
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