What Will Burn (Inspector McLean) by James Oswald
When Cecily Slater's body was found, she'd already been dead for a week - in a house fire in deserted woodland near Edinburgh. Heavy rain had washed away most of the evidence, but DI Tony McLean, demoted and just returned from suspension, is reluctant to accept that this is nothing more than a careless accident. There were indications that Slater had been savagely, almost ritualistically beaten before the fire. But who would hate a ninety-year-old woman to the extent of doing something like that? She was a virtual recluse: who could she have upset to that extent?
|What Will Burn (Inspector McLean) by James Oswald|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: One of the top police procedural series about at the moment: this is number eleven and it's a cracker. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464/14h08m||Date: Febriary 2021|
|External links: Author's website|
The old woman had lived quietly and taken no advantage of her relationship to the Bairnfather family. She could have had a suite of rooms at Bairnfather Hall but chose, instead, to live in the gamekeeper's cottage where she'd been born. Her nephew, Lord Bairnfather lived at the Hall (now a hotel) but had little contact with his aunt and was abroad when the fire happened and when the body was discovered. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to come home either: families can be funny like that.
It's a difficult case to get a grip on. Very little is known about Cecily Slater and even the combined forces of DS (yes - she's got a temporary promotion!) Janie Harrison, DC Lofty Blane, DI Richie, DC Jay Stringer and the former DCI, Tony McLean can't unearth anything. It looks as though it's going to gradually sink to the Cold Case Unit in the basement. CID has other problems to be dealing with - a series of unexplained deaths which shouldn't have happened but somehow did - and a new Chief Superintendent, Gail Elmwood, who seems to have designs of a very personal nature on Tony McLean. There's also a lawyer, Tommy Fielding, who's whipping up fanaticism with his campaign for men's rights.
I've got an admission to make: I've known about this series for years. It's been one of my treats when I listened to the audiobooks as pure relaxation. Brilliant characters stayed with me long after I'd finished each book (I do worry about McLean's partner, Emma!) and I looked forward to meeting them again in the next instalment of their stories. In each episode, new people arrive, some old ones depart and I was glad to have caught up with them all. I loved the Edinburgh which emerged - the one where real people live their lives and not the one the tourists inhabit. Most of all, I loved the plots: plenty of twists, but they never seemed contrived and the issues they covered were always up to the moment. Then I felt guilty: I'm a book reviewer. I shouldn't be keeping secrets like this!
So - this is book eleven in the series. You could start with this book but you'll get more out of it if you know the background to the characters. The first book is Natural Causes. In what will burn there's an element of witchcraft: normally this would annoy me but James Oswald does it well. There's just a touch of 'can I really believe this?' but as you read on it all seems so natural, so reasonable. There's also a thread about toxic masculinity running through the book which was particularly revealing. It was a cracker of a book and I really enjoyed it. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
Do I have any more closely-guarded secrets? Well, yes, I do - and I will get around to reviews, but in the meantime, you might enjoy more Edinburgh crime from Qunintin Jardine.
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