Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Birthdays For The Dead by Stuart MacBride

Scotland has a diabolical serial killer on the loose.  Dubbed The Birthday Boy by the press, he kidnaps young girls right before their thirteenth birthday.  They are never seen again, but each year on their birthday, the grieving parents receive a birthday card.  The card contains a photograph of their daughter bound to a chair.  Each year the girl is shown with signs of more torture, until on the fifth year she is shown dead.

Detective Constable Ash Henderson has been on the case since the start.  He has been demoted due to a mistake in the case that sent his superior officer to jail, and that broke the spirit of the case's forensic officer.  Ash knows more about the killer and the case than anyone, but he has secrets.  No one knows that five years ago his own daughter, Rebecca, was taken, and that Ash and his ex-wife receive the birthday cards each year.  This will be the year her death is shown, and Ash is determined to find the killer.  He has kept Rebecca's capture a secret from the police and everyone else so that he won't be taken off the case.

Things seem to be changing in the investigation.  There are signs the killer is escalating.  Ash gets a new ally in his hunt, a young forensic psychiatrist, Alice MacDonald.  She has demons of her own, but quickly bonds to Henderson.  Together they fight to find the killer before the latest victim is killed.

This is the first novel in the Ash Henderson series.  He is a violent man, but a man whose violence is done in the name of helping those he loves and catching the most evil humans who stalk the land.  Readers who came to know Stuart MacBride from the Detective Logan novels will find Ash a darker man, driven by demons that few can imagine.  MacBride's signature black humor is still to be found and his pacing and twists and turns will prove this is another stellar series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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