EXCERPT: The Shogun pitched and yawed through the potholes like a boat. God knew how big the rubbish tip was, but from the wide, lumpy road, it stretched all the way to the horizon. A vast sea of black plastic, gulls wheeling and screaming in the air above – flecks of evil white, caught against the heavy grey sky.
And the smell…
Even with the car windows wound up, it was something special. The rancid stench of rotting meat and vegetables mingled with the sticky-brown reek of used nappies, all underpinned by the dark peppery odour of black plastic left to broil in the sun.
MacAdams slipped the four-by-four in behind a line of police vehicles and grubby transit vans. Had to be, what, eight cars? Twelve if you counted the unmarked ones. About three-quarters of the day shift, all out there playing on the tip.
The sarcastic, half-arsed-poetry-spouting git was right: this was an awful lot of people for one dead body.
ABOUT ‘A DARK SO DEADLY’: Welcome to the Misfit Mob…
It’s where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to: the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to find out which museum it’s been stolen from.
But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting. O Division’s Major Investigation Teams already have more cases than they can cope with, so, against everyone’s better judgement, the Misfit Mob are just going to have to manage this one on their own.
No one expects them to succeed, but right now they’re the only thing standing between the killer’s victims and a slow, lingering death. The question is, can they prove everyone wrong before he strikes again?
MY THOUGHTS: (to the tune of ‘My Favourite Things’)
‘People dismembered with axes and chainsaws,
Someone’s been strangled with wire or some string,
A stabbing, a beating, a fresh torture victim,
These are a few of my favourite things…’
And, believe me, you are going to get it all in A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride, plus a few things that have never crept their way into your worst nightmares.
The cast of characters is immense. But don’t let that put you off. There’s no way you’ll be confusing any of this lot! Callum MacGregor has been banished to the misfits, supposedly for taking a bribe to cock up a crime scene. Detective Constable Rosalind Franklin punched a Superintendent. DC John Watt is a grumpy little git who clyped on his last team. DS Dorothy (Dotty) Hodgkin lost her leg above the knee in a high speed chase. Her wheelchair is named Keith (don’t ask). DS McAdams, the sarcastic, half-arsed, poetry-spouting git, has terminal bowel cancer, and DI Malcolmson, aka ‘Mother’, is recovering from a massive heart attack.
None of them want to be in the misfits, none of them believe that they deserve to be there, but they do believe that the others do. The resentments fuel feuds and impede teamwork, but it enhances the plot.
MacBride is the master of black humour and sly snidery and sarcasm. While the subject matter is definitely dark, the dialogue will do more than raise a smile. Not a good book to read in public.
Dark, gripping, and wickedly twisty, A Dark So Deadly is a definite recommendation. Don’t be put off by the size – 596 pages – this is a read that will have you frantically turning the pages.
In Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, Hell was divided into nine circles, each devoted to punishing a particular group of sinners. But up here, in the land of the living, it was roadworks and rush hour.’
THE AUTHOR: Aka Stuart B. MacBride
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: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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