Monday, June 5, 2017

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Scotland Police has a long proud history of competent officers working in concert to solve crimes and keep the city and countryside safe.  Then there is the Misfit Mob, a collection of officers that for various reasons have been shunted to the side and work on nonessential cases.  There is Detective Constable Callum MacGregor who had a promising career until his girlfriend messed up a crime scene and he took the blame for her, leaving most people sure he was a bribe taker.  DC Rosalind Franklin is a touchy feminist who is quick to believe that most men don't give her credit and only want her around for her body.  DC John Watt is a curmudgeon who no one wants to work with.  Detective Sargent Dotty Hodgkin is in the unit as she now rides a wheelchair after a work-related accident.  DS Andrew MacAdams is dying of cancer but hiding the truth from his family and doctors.  Finally, DCI Malcomson, or 'Mother', has been shunted to the group to recuperate from her own health issues.

Callum is called to a nuisance case.  Someone has found something strange at the dump.  When he arrives, it turns out to be a body, but one that is mummified.  He is put on the job of calling all the local museums and science organizations to see if it is theirs.  But the autopsy shows that the corpse is recent and soon other mummies start showing up; bodies that have been brined and then smoked like fish.  The Misfit Mob retains the case as all the others are overloaded, although no one expects much from them.

Concurrently, there are strange incidents regarding Callum's own past.  He was deserted at five years old, his mother, father and twin brother disappearing at a rest stop on the way home from a family vacation.  He grew up in a series of care homes, each more devious and cruel than the next.  His family's case has never been solved and as best he can tell, not given very high priority or worked on very hard.  There seems to be some movement to cracking the shell of neglect and inattention the case received as it gets linked to a more current case.  Can Callum discover the truth about his past as he works on the murder case?

Stuart MacBride is one of the most famous mystery writers working today.  His prime character is DC Logan McRae and he has an extensive series of books about Logan, each a success.  This book starts a new series, or at least readers can hope it does.  These characters sing and meld into a hopelessly inept group that somehow manages to do everything right.  The breezy style and 'just get on with it' mantra is exhilarating.   The reader is carried along with twists and turns where least expected.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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