No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride
|No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's the fifth book in the Oldcastle series and a compelling read. The humour is dark and you'll occasionally need a strong stomach. Definitely recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: April 2022|
|Publisher: Bantam Press|
|External links: Author's website|
We're in Oldcastle and Malcolm is in trouble. He's in an abandoned house and he's being threatened by two young people. One is Allegra (we'll soon learn that she's Allegra Dean-Edwards) and Hugo. It seems that Allegra bought Malcolm a new coat to keep him warm (she often does this for homeless people, apparently) but she'd put a tracking device in it so that she and Hugo could find out where he was sleeping. It won't be long before the police realise that Malcolm was one of their own: not many other people are going to have the Oldcastle police crest tattooed on their backs.
Meanwhile, back at the station, Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh has returned to work after some traumatic events. Everyone is treating her with kid gloves and carefully not mentioning Neil Black. That's as well because Lucy can't actually say his name either. It's a problem that isn't going to go away: Black's mother is determined to prove that Lucy murdered her son - it's probably easier than admitting that you gave birth to, and brought up, a monster. No one has suggested that Lucy didn't kill Black - she didn't have a choice - but it leaves you in no doubt that she is capable of extreme violence.
Operation Maypole - the search for the so-called 'Bloodsmith' serial killed has been on the go for seventeen months and it's obvious that overall responsibility is being passed down the ranks so that those higher up are better able to cover their backs. It began with Superintendent Spence, dropped to DCI Ross and now it's with DI Tudor - but expect cameo appearances from senior officers at the first sign of any success. It was ever thus. Lucy McVeigh is partnered with DC Duncan 'the Dunk' Fraser. He has the capacity to be intensely annoying but, on the other hand, he is having to ride around in a pink Bedford Rascal van covered with logos of copulating sausages. No - sorry - you'll have to read the book to understand how that one came about. I'm not even going to attempt an explanation.
It's a big book but a remarkably quick read - simply because the tension ratchets up and you have got to find out what happens next. Lucy McVeigh is a great creation: there's an obvious vulnerability there but underlying what looks like PTSD is the knowledge of exactly what she is capable of doing when push comes to shove. The contrast with her partner 'the Dunk' is neat and well done. So far as the plot goes, you will need to be in the wide-awake club towards the end of the book: Stuart MacBride cleverly trusts his readers to work out for themselves exactly what is going on but if you make the effort the results are worthwhile.
If you'd like to read more from Stuart MacBride, we can recommend his Logan McRae series.
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