HARPERCOLLINS, £14.99 Order for £13.49 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Dark Blood, By Stuart MacBride
The Mac pack make a killing
Monday 17 May 2010
Stuart MacBride is corrupting the children of Britain. Not content with writing his lacerating crime fiction for adults, he is polluting the youth of the nation with his young-adult outing Sawbones, which had the Sunday papers fulminating against "a novel full of expletives, sex and violence". One paper even calculated how many times the F-word and its variants had been used: 89 times, to be exact.
Needless to say, this tsunami of moral outrage did absolutely no harm to sales of the book. And it might be argued that the softly spoken Scottish writer has done young adult readers something of a service. When they move on to MacBride's adult titles, they will be perfectly primed for the incendiary mix of gruesome incident and idiomatic writing that is the hallmark of the author's crime fiction and its tough copper, Logan McRae.
What better place for that legion of fresh-faced new readers to start than with the latest McRae, Dark Blood? As in such earlier outings as Cold Granite and Broken Skin, we're served up some of the grittiest crime-writing in the field. But while MacBride might seem to be setting out to make fellow Celts Val McDermid and Ian Rankin look as genteel as Alexander McCall Smith, there is much more to him than that. The McRae books sport some of the pithiest snapshots of modern urban life this side of Irvine Welsh, and the plotting has a cohesion that puts most writers in the genre to shame.
Logan McRae is handed a particularly unwelcome job. He is to be involved in the relocation of a vicious rapist, Richard Knox. The latter has served his time and found God, putting his many sexual assaults behind him, and is to be moved from his native Newcastle to McRae's beat of Aberdeen.
The auguries are not good, particularly as Edinburgh hard man Malk the Knife is muscling into the property-development boom, and a gangland accountant has gone missing. The elements are in place for violence and combustion. This is quintessential Stuart MacBride: tartan noir etched in the darkest of hues and garnished with dialogue so sharp you may cut yourself. But if you're the parent of a teenager, perhaps it would be best not to read any passages out loud. Or, if you do, don't tell the Sunday newspapers.
Barry Forshaw's book about Stieg Larsson, 'The Man Who Left Too Soon', is published by John Blake
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Arts & Ents blogs
Jared Leto: Best Supporting Actor Oscar sparks backlash from transgender community
In Kony's shadow: Shocking photographs reveal brutality of Lord's Resistance Army
Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi struggles financially despite Oscar nomination
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill set for new film penned by Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray
First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Sir Patrick Stewart patches into David Cameron and Barack Obama's Ukraine talks with packet of wet wipes
- 4 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 5 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition