At the start of lock down, I was struggling with being at home so much and having all that free time on my hands. Making a point at least once a day to think about what I’ve been able to do with the time has helped me keep some semblance of sanity, and writing this review of the fourth Inspector McLean novel is yet another reminder of how many amazing books I’ve had the opportunity to read over the past 100+ days.
My reading goal for this year was 20 books, and I’m currently sitting at 37, so that’s one more thing I have to be positive about.
The body of a prominent Scottish MP is discovered outside his home, a remote house in North East Fife. In a horrifying attack, Andrew Weatherly has killed his wife and two young daughters, before turning his gun on himself.
The question on everyone’s lips is why would this successful and wealthy man commit such a gruesome crime?
Inspector Tony McLean is surprised to find himself at the centre of this high profile investigation. The deeper he digs, the more McLean realizes he is being used in a game between shadowy factions from the world of power and privilege.
Pressure is on to wrap up the case. That would go against everything McLean believes in . . . but to carry on will threaten the lives of his closest friends and colleagues.
// What I Liked//
McLean has multiple cases on the go > It’s been a feature of the previous three books, but it’s worth mentioning again because it makes McLean being an inspector feel more genuine.
There’s mention of the accompanying paperwork, too, but McLean is always more than willing to lend a hand on any of the enquiries he’s overseeing, and with his time being spent equally between each case, we get more than one mystery to invest in.
DCI Duguid > McLean’s superior officer, the detective chief inspector has been something of a comic relief in Books 1 to 3, as he and McLean only needed to set eyes on each other to get their hackles up.
Their bickering is funny and helps to balance out the darker elements of the series, but what I liked in particular about Duguid’s appearance in Book 4 is that he’d mellowed out a little bit and in spite of his motive for setting McLean onto the Weatherly investigation, he’d recognised that McLean is a good detective and therefore the most likely to uncover the reason behind Weatherly’s death.
Supporting cast > The comings and goings of the other officers in McLean’s station added further authenticity to the fictional Edinburgh he inhabits, as there were some who only appeared for a few chapters before returning to other duties, and others who stuck around because they enjoyed the excitement of CID.
My favourite by far of the background cast has to be Grumpy Bob, a sergeant McLean has worked with for a while, and Detective Constable MacBride (yes, that is a reference to the Scottish crime author), who joined McLean in Book 1 and been around ever since.
Book 4 continues features from Book 3, but still works as a standalone > This is also something I’ve mentioned in past reviews about this series, but the more I read, the more I appreciate how well Oswald understands that some people are going to read the books back to back, while others might pick up the most recent addition.
It starts with McLean at a crime scene, and then slowly introduces us to the characters we need to know about.
There was a little less mention to past events this time around, but it was still clear who McLean regularly worked with and what their relationships were like, and if anything that had happened in Book 3 was important to the plot, we were given an explanation if one was needed.
// Not So Much…//
I’d started writing this post while still reading Dead Men’s Bones, and one of the things I’d put down in this section was the absence of the supernatural, which had played such a big part in the previous three novels.
It felt like this was the first book in a series and the author was trying to decide how heavily the paranormal should feature, giving us only little references and suggestions that something other than a human being was involved in McLean’s cases, but then came a turning point and it stopped being so obscure who exactly McLean’s paranormal adversary was supposed to be.
Having finished the book, I was surprised by how well that subtlety worked, and it gave DMB a very different feel to its predecessors.
I think this has been my favourite of the series so far, and I’m looking forward to finding out where Tony McLean goes next.
Book Depository/ Waterstones