Birthdays for the Dead

Birthdays for the DeadBirthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a hmmm growing to love relationship with this book, a story about DC Ash Henderson, a corrupt Scottish cop whose heart is more or less in the right place. I found the beginning of the book awkward, I can’t remember which author said it but if the reader is aware of your writing, you’re doing it wrong (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing) but at the beginning of the book I was so aware of MacBride’s writing style and it wasn’t for good reasons. I found his style overly and often unnecessarily descriptive, such as describing what the sky looked like twice in the same scene and MacBride seems obsessed with describing chins, so much so, that if on the rare occasion he didn’t describe a character’s chin it got me wondering whether a character even had one! There were also a few odd use of words, such as describing a work surface in a kitchen as a workING surface and when a character’s glasses got bent he described it as the legs of the glasses getting bent not the arms (everyone calls it arms of glasses don’t they? legs is odd). Maybe I’m being hypercritical but it the style just kept on throwing me out of the story, preventing me from getting fully absorbed, for probably the first quarter of the book anyway. The rest ….. I was gripped, there were still a few jarring writing style moments but the building working relationship between Henderson and the new criminal psychologist Dr McDonald (or Dr McFruitloop, as Henderson has her down on his phone) really rescued the book for me. I thought the interaction between Henderson and McDonald was written really well, a very odd (professional) couple but they made a fantastic team as they investigated a serial killer who is abducting 12 year old girls a few days before their 13th birthday, torturing them to death and then sending photographs of the process to the parents every year on their birthdays. It’s dark and there’s violence but there’s a few laugh out loud moments to, I think it would make a fantastic TV series. Birthdays for the Dead is the first Ash Henderson book but not the last, which is a good thing.

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