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MisterHobgoblin

Stuart MacBride
A Dark so Deadly

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PC Callum McGregor stuffed up the crime scene in his last investigation - so he finds himself shunted off to a "Misfit Mob" in Oldcastle, a bleak (and fictional) city on the east coast of Scotland. Nothing ever happens there; it is a sheltered posting for the war-wounded, incompetent and untouchable police from across Scotland. So imagine their surprise when some grisly remains turn up and they get the job of investigating.

 

A Dark So Deadly is a long book - the guts of 200,000 words as Stuart MacBride manages to drop into the text in a spot of metafiction. This allows space for plot and character to develop; for red herrings to work their way through; for constant deferral of the final act. All this is very satisfying. But on the other hand, it does take an awfully long time to work out what is actually happening. Some 20% of the way in - that's 120 pages in old money - and it still isn't clear exactly where the focus is going to lie; what the crime might be that they are all investigating. 

 

As well as the murders, PC McGregor has a backstory that requires exploration. This is sort of intriguing, but it does also interrupt the flow of the story - presumably intentionally so. And it sort of makes sense by the end, but for much of the novel, it feels a bit like two different books, chopped and spliced together in random order like Lanark. 

 

Stuart MacBride always writes with mordant wit and clever wordplay. For example, one of the characters is called Watt. This allows a chapter to start with"So, Watt... So what?". There are references to cultural icons both Scottish and of the 1970s and 1980s in which Mr MacBride presumably grew up - e.g. repeated references to The Meaning of Life and Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex... It is all good fun.

 

And like previous Stuart MacBride books, crimes are gruesome and grisly. You can tell he really enjoys creating the crimes far more than he enjoys solving them. Of course, the side effect of this is that the book does depart from plausibility on occasions. Callum`s own back story, in particular, could never really have happened as described. But I guess this is unlikely to trouble a reader who is going to accept the disappearance and mummification of the city's good people. 

Basically, this is a bit of fun. Well written and pacy - gripping towards the end. Recommended for holiday reading. 

 

****0

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13 hours ago, MisterHobgoblin said:

PC Callum McGregor stuffed up the crime scene in his last investigation - so he finds himself shunted off to a "Misfit Mob" in Oldcastle, a bleak (and fictional) city on the east coast of Scotland. Nothing ever happens there; it is a sheltered posting for the war-wounded, incompetent and untouchable police from across Scotland. So imagine their surprise when some grisly remains turn up and they get the job of investigating.

 

A Dark So Deadly is a long book - the guts of 200,000 words as Stuart MacBride manages to drop into the text in a spot of metafiction. This allows space for plot and character to develop; for red herrings to work their way through; for constant deferral of the final act. All this is very satisfying. But on the other hand, it does take an awfully long time to work out what is actually happening. Some 20% of the way in - that's 120 pages in old money - and it still isn't clear exactly where the focus is going to lie; what the crime might be that they are all investigating. 

 

As well as the murders, PC McGregor has a backstory that requires exploration. This is sort of intriguing, but it does also interrupt the flow of the story - presumably intentionally so. And it sort of makes sense by the end, but for much of the novel, it feels a bit like two different books, chopped and spliced together in random order like Lanark. 

 

Stuart MacBride always writes with mordant wit and clever wordplay. For example, one of the characters is called Watt. This allows a chapter to start with"So, Watt... So what?". There are references to cultural icons both Scottish and of the 1970s and 1980s in which Mr MacBride presumably grew up - e.g. repeated references to The Meaning of Life and Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex... It is all good fun.

 

And like previous Stuart MacBride books, crimes are gruesome and grisly. You can tell he really enjoys creating the crimes far more than he enjoys solving them. Of course, the side effect of this is that the book does depart from plausibility on occasions. Callum`s own back story, in particular, could never really have happened as described. But I guess this is unlikely to trouble a reader who is going to accept the disappearance and mummification of the city's good people. 

 

Basically, this is a bit of fun. Well written and pacy - gripping towards the end. Recommended for holiday reading. 

 

****0

 

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I have tried reading Stuart McBride's books but get mostly put off by the amount of swearing even though I figure the plots are well written.  Is he any better now?

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10 hours ago, momac said:

I have tried reading Stuart McBride's books but get mostly put off by the amount of swearing even though I figure the plots are well written.  Is he any better now?

 

If swearing is bad then he has not improved. Personally I don't mind it and it's not what I use to judge a book.

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Each to their own I guess, it may be that the way his character speaks is quite in keeping with his job, I just found it really distracting. I read lots of police procedural and detective books and maybe a lot of the authors tone down what otherwise might be realism in the world of police talk.

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2 hours ago, MisterHobgoblin said:

 

If swearing is bad then he has not improved. Personally I don't mind it and it's not what I use to judge a book.

Swearing isn't an issue for me.  Explicit violence can be.  I don't really have an issue with random, at a distance violence.  What I don't like is slow, targeted, personal, sadistic violence.

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I can relate to a dislike of explicit violence too Tag.

 

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4 hours ago, momac said:

I can relate to a dislike of explicit violence too Tag.

 

 

In which case Stuart MacBride is really not going to work for you.

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