HarperCollins | 2019, Pb 2020 | 448p | Review copy | Buy the book
It’s Inspector Logan McRae’s first day back at work after a year off on the sick. Somebody’s taken his desk. Not a good start but at least he should be able to take things easy for a bit, get back into it slowly. And then high-profile anti-Scottish independence campaigner Professor Wilson goes missing and someone else with similar opinions vanishes. DI King is in charge of the investigation and it’s not going well. His past has raised its ugly head and he’s fighting to hang onto his job. Logan, who’s still working for Professional Standards, is given the job of keeping an eye on him. As the case grabs more and more media attention, as the police become more and more divided, as the political rows heat up, and the hunt becomes increasingly urgent and macabre, Logan finds himself working with the old crew again, and that means Roberta Steel and Tufty. Poor old Tufty. As for Steel…
Stuart MacBride can do no wrong in my eyes. His novels always feature in my top five books of the year, if not in the top one, and I was desperate to read All That’s Dead (understatement). And it is fantastic! It’s the twelfth Logan McRae novel. It stands alone very well as a mystery but I think to gain optimum enjoyment you’d need to have read at least a few more of the series. That way you’ll know how these detectives function, or usually don’t function, as a team. Because these people are an absolute joy to read about.
Logan is our man in charge (and how I love him) but he has his hands full with this lot. Tufty deserves books of his own and he’s at his most irritable and yet endearing best here. He really needs to be kept in a cupboard and only let out on rare occasions when he can be closely monitored. Steel has had her own book (the brilliant Now We Are Dead) and she just gets better and better at being utterly awful, with her itching and scratching, scoffing and leering. She is my favourite detective and, as is usual, she steals every page she’s on, although Tufty gives her a good run for her money.
Stuart MacBride is the wittiest of writers and All That’s Dead sparkles. This is such clever writing. It makes the reader laugh but this contrasts so effectively with other sections of the book which are utterly shocking. The case at the heart of the novel is horrifying. It builds slowly towards something unforgettable. It is astonishing.
There are politics bubbling away in the background, giving the book a timeliness. But, unusually, this is Scotland in a heatwave! We’re used to rain in these books but now the sun has come out and it’s making everybody very tetchy. These people were not designed for heat or sunshine.
I could rave about All That’s Dead all week. This is with no doubt at all my favourite crime series and Stuart MacBride is my favourite crime writer. I urge you to read them. Everybody needs to meet Roberta Steel! And Tufty. Poor Tufty…