HarperCollins | 2018 (14 June) | 488p | Review copy | Buy the book
Detective Inspector Bell is the last person that Inspector Logan McRae and his colleagues expect to find dead in his car with a big stabby hole in his chest – they buried him two years ago. With full police honours, too. And now it looks as if Bell didn’t just fake his own death and run off to live the life of riley in sunnier climes but that he also murdered the person who was buried in his place. This is not looking good for the police. And it doesn’t help that they’re still waiting for a break in the case of the missing little girl, Ellie Morton.
Logan works for Professional Standards now, policing his own colleagues. Bell’s case clearly falls into this remit but, as he digs deeper into what could have been so important to make DI Bell come back to Scotland only to die for a second time, it’s all starting to look very complicated. And it’s only a matter of time before more dead people turn up and more children start to disappear.
My feelings of love and adoration for Inspector Logan McRae know no bounds. With no doubt at all, Logan is my favourite fictional detective (although he has one possible rival in my affections – his colleague Roberta Steel) and Stuart MacBride my favourite crime writer. I could read these books day in, day out and still want more. His books last year, A Dark So Deadly and Now We Are Dead were my two top books of 2018 and they weren’t even Logan books, although celebration is in order because in Now We Are Dead we were rewarded with 600 pages of Roberta Steel! I digress… So, I was very ready for another Logan McRae novel and The Blood Road is the eleventh and how welcome it was. It is every bit as brilliant as I knew it would be.
There are lots of reasons why The Blood Road is a stand out novel – the sheer quality of the writing, the wit and ingenuity, the characters (both the familiar and the unfamiliar) and the story, which, as usual for these books, tears right into the heart of the reader. The story of the missing children in The Blood Road is extraordinarily powerful and emotional. These little boys and girls are portrayed with such care and warmth that I wept for them and we understand fully why Logan, Roberta and everyone else will stop at nothing to save them. They are totally obsessed. Rules fall by the wayside. The tension is immense.
And then there are the characters. How I love Logan and Steel. There’s nobody else like Roberta Steel – thank heavens. If you’ve not met her before then you are in for an absolute treat. Just try not to eat first. She breaks every rule in the PC rulebook, her behaviour is shocking, she wears the scratchiest underwear and…. well, I think you must discover the rest for yourself. Her relationship with Logan is second to none. There is a great deal of history between them and so you’d do well to have read the earlier books but, if you haven’t, you’ll soon catch up and then want to know more. Only one person can hold their own in a novel with Steel in it and that person is Logan McRae. It’s so good to see him again as he tries, once again, to hold his life together and move it along. And then there’s Tufty… Poor Tufty.
In The Blood Road we have it all – murder and mystery, humour and wit, tragedy and distress, action and bewilderment, the pure bizarre and multiple puzzles, rainy Aberdeen, people at their best and at their very, very worst, Logan and Roberta. I love that these books are longer than most. Every page is a joy. I look forward to a Stuart MacBride book just about more than any other and The Blood Road, like every other book of his I’ve read, reminds me why.