Killing Spree – Sandra Foy reviews A Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride

The Killing Spree continues today as blogger Sandra Foy discusses her love of crime fiction and shares her review of A Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride. My thanks go to Sandra for a great post. You can read more of her reviews at her blog readingwrites.

My love of crime/mystery books comes from an early age, when I first picked up an Enid Blyton, Secret Seven book. After reading the first one I devoured the rest. Then I rallied all the kids in the area to create our own Secret Seven Club (I was Pam) which landed us in a whole lot of trouble, but that’s another story. From there I went onto The famous Five who were, in my book, not a good as The Secret Seven, but kept me well entertained nevertheless.
Later, in my local library I discovered Sherlock Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles remains a favourite to this day.
As a teenager I found the love of my life: Agatha Christie. I have read and re-read and re-re-read most of her books. Hercule Poirot, with all his little idiosyncrasies, is one of the greatest characters ever.
Nowadays I read a wide variety of crime/mystery novels; but particularly love Sharon Bolton, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin.
What I love about the crime/mystery genre is all of humankind is visible here. Crime is found in all walks of life and you meet every kind of character in crime novels
The crime novelist delves into the underbelly of the human psyche, trying to show how a criminal mind works, if that is possible. But more than that, it is the other characters, the ones who have to deal with crime, the ones who have to live with the fallout from crimes committed. It is fascinating, sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking, watching different characters trying to come to terms with what life has thrown at them.
One of my favourite crime novels is Song For The Dead by Stuart MacBride, it was the first Stuart MacBride book that I read and I loved it and have gone on to be a huge fan. Here is the review I wrote for it:
A Song For The Dying
by Stuart MacBride

A heart-stopping crime thriller and the fourth consecutive No. 1 Bestseller from the author of the Logan McRae series and Birthdays for the Dead.

He’s back…

Eight years ago, ‘The Inside Man’ murdered four women and left three more in critical condition – all of them with their stomachs slit open and a plastic doll stitched inside.

And then the killer just … disappeared.

Ash Henderson was a Detective Inspector on the initial investigation, but a lot can change in eight years. His family has been destroyed, his career is in tatters, and one of Oldcastle’s most vicious criminals is making sure he spends the rest of his life in prison.

Now a nurse has turned up dead on a patch of waste ground, a plastic doll buried beneath her skin, and it looks as if Ash might finally get a shot at redemption. At earning his freedom.

At revenge.

I have not read any Stuart MacBride books before, I don’t quite know how I’ve managed that but there you have it. Also I didn’t realise that this was the second in a series; Birthdays for the Dead being the first. However, you don’t need to read them in order, this book works perfectly as a stand-alone.

D.I. Ash Henderson has been in prison for two years, framed for murder by a vicious gangster. He only gets released when Police Scotland needs his help in trying to catch a serial killer that got away from them eight years previously.

I have to say that although Ash Henderson is a hard-bitten, aggressive, violent man, whose answer to anyone who crosses him is to wrap the nearest object around their heads: I absolutely loved him. He just seemed so real. Having Alice, police psychologist, with him throughout was a masterstroke. She brings out a softer side in him, but it is just slightly softer, not sentimental. I can’t decide if he looks on Alice as his girlfriend or the daughter that he has lost. Whichever, he is very protective of her.

Alice herself we don’t really find out too much about her other than she is a psychcologist, she wears red shoes and she twiddles her hair a lot. I would love to see her further developed in future books if possible.

This book is packed with characters, some of them extremely unsavoury, these are not characters that you would want to meet on a dark night; nor in broad daylight come to that. Mrs Kerrigan, Ash’s nemesis, is utterly vile. William McFee, the preacher, whose God is straight out of the Old Testament, is not much better but he works so well. As do they all.

This is a grim book with lots of gruesome violence but there is still a lot of humour to be found and it is very well done. I particularly liked Ash’s internal dialogues.

Macbride has such a flair for language, his description of place and mood of setting are so effective, Scotland in all its hard-bitten granite glory just smacks you in the face.

I have never read a Stuart MacBride book before but I will certainly be rectifying that now.

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