RogerBW's Blog

Dark Blood, Stuart MacBride 02 October 2022

2010 police procedural mystery, tartan noir, sixth in the Logan McRae series. McRae is assigned to the team keeping an eye on the convicted, imprisoned and now released sex offender Richard Knox. But there's more to Knox than rape and torture, and many other things are going on too…

In my review of the previous book, I said: "by the end McRae is fatally compromised, not just by the alcohol that he's using to deal with post-traumatic stress but by some of his actions late in the story. That's not the sort of thing you can just forget about and go back to doing your job. Some of my reaction to this book will have to wait until I've read how this is dealt with in the next one." Well, at the very least it's not forgotten; but McRae, who tends to be pretty incompetent for the first two-thirds of each book anyway, is particularly so here, to the point that he largely lost my sympathy. Yes, everyone on the force hates him… because he keeps on screwing up!

This may well work better for other people than it did for me. It's not different in kind from the earlier books, but McRae's going further off the end of "damaged but functional" and sinking into "just kind of broken". He's moving in the right direction by the end, but he's definitely not a working human being yet – and one of the few elements that doesn't get some closure in the final chapter is his relationship with the crime scene tech Samantha.

But apart from the largely broken protagonist, which to be fair does have significant influence on the rest of the story… actually, it works. There's the usual sticky and disgusting MacBride version of street-level police work; some of the criminality is basic stuff that could be stopped by almost anyone, some is much more cunning, and some is just very well connected. It's hardly an advertisement for the wonderfulness of the police, but justice does mostly prevail. More or less.

Book five had good details but flat story; this one feels the other way round, with a solid story let down at times by details that don't engage. But I continue to enjoy MacBride's writing and will continue with both this series and his other material.

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Previous in series: Blind Eye | Series: Logan McRae | Next in series: Shatter the Bones

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