Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2)Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The call of Rebus’ world called me back quicker than I anticipated, there is something comforting about reading books where you already know the characters and the Rebus books seem to also be turning into quick reads. In this one (book 2) there is the joy of not having to wade through all that establishment of Rebus’ character, so the book could concentrate on the actual crime. The crime in question is the death of a junkie, his body found in what appears to be a satanic ritual. It turned out to be quite nicely seedy.

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Knots and Crosses

Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst still in book hangover from the Logan McRae series, I’ve been searching around for a new book obsession and I thought I’d go for some more Tartan Noir with the Rebus series. I’ve started at the beginning with Knots and Crosses, written way back in the 80s, so everyone is smoking everywhere, whereas compared to the McRae series, they’re all huddling outside in the rain with their fags and in Rebus’ world computers are new fangled things and case reviews are done by getting the secretary to get the paper files out of storage.

It was interesting reading the note from Rankin at the beginning of the book, he wrote Knots and Crosses as a student and he admits to cringing at some of the lines and overuse of big, fancy words such as manumission and I have to admit, having a policeman think such literary thoughts didn’t some how ring true, even though it was explained how much Rebus is in to books. Same as during a key scene where they’re chasing the suspect they still get the chance to admire the architecture!

So if I’m looking for a new series to get into, I’m not sure the Rebus series is it. It doesn’t have the same humour as the McRae books and it doesn’t have the same level of human interactions either. However it wasn’t a bad read, a story about a serial killer strangling school girls and Rebus is an interesting character and I suspect the series probably does get better as Rankin gets more under Rebus’ skin (and maybe uses slightly less pretentious words), so I may well read more.

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The Raven’s Head

The Raven's HeadThe Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved Karen Maitland’s earlier books but recently her books have been so so and I thought this one, a tale of an apprenticed librarian, a young boy taken by monks and an apothecary’s assistant, was heading the same way. The beginning was slow and cliched, it was a real struggle to read at first but the story did pick up with lots of black magic plus a bonus early medieval appearance of a town I used to live in and a place where my dad used to work (I have a soft spot for books featuring locations I know, particularly in historical novels).

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22 Dead Little Bodies

22 Dead Little Bodies (A Logan and Steel Short Novel) (Logan Mcrae)22 Dead Little Bodies (A Logan and Steel Short Novel) by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is another novella, set between book 8 and book 9 (so no finding out if Logan stays in Banff *pouts*). Logan is still an acting DI, in charge of a much reduced CID, as all the decent stuff goes to the MITs, so it’s arguing neighbours and dead tramps and death notices for suicides. However nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

22 Dead Little Bodies also answers (sort of) some unanswered questions from book 9, such as where does Logan now stand with Reuben?

I received this book as part of Goodreads First Reads scheme.

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Partners in Crime

Partners in CrimePartners in Crime by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Partners in Crime is two McRae and Steel short stories. The first, featuring just Steel, explains a reference that was made in book 8 and has Steel getting into the Christmas spirit. The second story involves both McRae and Steel, as Logan helps Steel investigate why a number of drug dealers have turned up on the small Scottish island where Steel and her wife are on holiday. Both stories are quite funny.

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The Missing and the Dead

The Missing and the DeadThe Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I’ve finished my month long trawl through the Logan McRae series with book 9, The Missing and the Dead (although I still have some McRae and Steel short stories / novellas to read, yay). The Missing and the Dead is different from the previous eight books in that most of it takes place in the small town of Banff, on the Aberdeenshire coast, as Logan goes back into uniform as a duty sergeant. MacBride seems to do a good job at reflecting the changing face of Scottish policing and now all the interesting stuff is taken by Major Investigation Teams, leaving uniform to herd escaped cows and spin druggies. Having read all the previous books back to back, it was quite a culture shock to move from gritty Aberdeen to the more sedate seaside town and with our hero not doing anything that exciting. It felt a bit like a final Die Hard movie where instead of Bruce Willis kicking butt, he got a nice sedate job as a supermarket security guard where nothing much happens. It was nice in a way though, as McRae has been through so much shit in previous books, it was good to see him getting a bit of a break. However from a reader’s perspective, someone picking up the book because they like gritty city crime and instead getting something a bit more genteel, it was like “Oh no!!!”. However I of course needn’t have worried, it was nice getting to know the new characters (once I got over missing Rennie and Biohazard) and the wider variety of cases McRae was working on was more like the earlier books in the series. And of course things do get exciting and McRae in no way gets it easy. There’s drug dealers and cash machine robbers but the main storyline is the death of a little girl which thankfully brings DCI Steel into town (I was really missing her) and which links to a backstory that’s been slowly simmering throughout the whole series.

Now I’ve read the whole series (of the novels, as it stands), I’ve been thinking again about why I like the McRae series so much and I thought I’d write a list-

* DCI Steel – I LOVE Steel, at the beginning of the series (when she was just a DI), she leads the ‘Screw Up Squad’ and I was disappointed when McRae got transferred to her team, away from the constantly sweet eating DI Insch who I much preferred at the time. DI / DCI Steel is loud, sweary and obnoxious and it takes a while to warm to her but she’s brilliant, funny and has a heart of gold.

* The food – a policeman’s diet in Aberdeenshire is an unhealthy one but oooh it sounds delicious. Think lots of junk food, particularly the Aberdeen speciality of stovies (a type of lard bread roll), bacon rolls and macaroni cheese and chips, so reading the series made me drool, except for the book Flesh House which was the absolute opposite!

* The weather – the weather in Aberdeenshire seems to mostly be extreme, it’s either bitterly cold and snowing or extremely wet. As a Londoner I’m getting a bit fed up of the samey grey weather you get here all the time, it hasn’t (other than the last week) even been raining that much, so reading books where the characters are getting bashed by the elements so much was a nice change.

* The banter – ooh I hate that word normally but that’s what the conversations between McRae and his colleagues actually are and it’s a pleasure to read and it really adds to making the characters seem real.

* The long running storylines – there are several long running storylines running throughout the books. Some of the storyline mentions are really subtle, just maybe a line or two but it really helps make McRae’s world seem more complex and real and it helps build up tension for when / if those storylines get resolved.

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