The Coffinmaker's Garden by Stuart MacBride
|The Coffinmaker's Garden by Stuart MacBride|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: If I'd realised that it was number three in a series I might not have jumped in so readily as knowledge of what's gone before would help but if you're OK with violence and like dark humour it's a good book. On that basis, it's cautiously recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496/10h40m||Date: January 2021|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
|External links: Author's website|
At the coastal village of Clachmara, the headland is slowly eroding into the sea. Storm Trevor speeds up the process. A ship - the Ocean-Gold Harvester is stuck on the rocks and young Alfie Compton cannot resist sneaking out of the house to see what's happening. Margaret runs after her son and as she grabs him to pull him back to safety she glances across at the newly-exposed cliff front and sees human bones. Gordon Smith's home is falling into the North Sea and the evidence of what he's been doing for decades is going with it - except for what Ash Henderson of LIRU can grab as he later escapes the tumbling ruin.
LIRU - that's the Lateral Investigative and Review Unit - is a group of consultants, some of whom (like Ash Henderson) are ex-police. There's also Dr Alice Henderson, a profiler with an inability to stop talking and a drink problem. She doesn't believe that she can profile sober. LIRU's used by Police Scotland when they need help: in this case, it's manpower help as they are investigating the deaths of three young boys and the disappearing bones are a problem they don't need.
Recently I've abandoned my principle of not joining established crime series when they've got a couple of books under their belt. This time I didn't realise that this is the 'Oldcastle' or 'Ash Henderson' series (depending on where you look) and that The Coffinmaker's Garden is book three in the series. There's nothing on the front cover to tell you that this is the case and I wish I'd known. When I started reading, the characters arrived like the ravening hordes. They all seemed to know each other and to have nicknames. Why, I wondered, was a DI widely called 'Mother'? Apparently to be allowed to do so was a privilege. About thirty pages in and thoroughly confused, I gave up and went back to the beginning and started making notes. The mist cleared. If you've read earlier books in the series, you'll not have this problem.
Once I got the people (and there are a lot of them...) sorted out, what I got was a really good, well-plotted book. There are characters for you to root for and a good few you're going to loathe. I've always enjoyed Stuart MacBride's books because of the humour - here it's dark with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and it is needed to offset the violence. I found there was a little too much description for my taste (I'm a wuss, particularly where animals are concerned) but if you're OK with this and you've read earlier books in the series you can add at least a half and possibly a full star to my rating.
I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
If you enjoy Stuart MacBride's work, try his Logan McRae series: start with Cold Granite.
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