All That Lives by James Oswald

Wildfire | 2022 (17 February) | 448p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book | Listen to the book

Discoveries of 700-year-old human remains at an archaeological dig in South Leith intrigue DI Tony McLean and his partner Emma but Tony becomes troubled when more bones are recovered, far, far more recent and yet sharing similarities with the ancient remains. And other people are dying. Their deaths appear violent and brutal but no evidence can be found of a killer. Matters aren’t helped by the return to work of Chief Superintendent Gail Elmwood who appears to have had a miraculous recovery from her horrific burns. She wants Tony to work with the charitable Dee Foundation, which is working to clear the streets of drugs and knife crime. Tony knows differently. Jane Louise Dee or Mrs Saifre is Tony’s nemesis of many years’ standing. He knows her to be a monster.

How I love this series! I’m not a big reader of crime fiction these days, as I immerse myself in historical fiction and alien worlds, but if there’s one series I will always read it’s James Oswald’s Tony McLean books. I absolutely love them. They’re set around Edinburgh, a beautiful city with a current of darkness flowing beneath and the books themselves are also dark. Retired officer Grumpy Bob works in the basement on old, cold crimes, revealing an evil that never dies, while the enigmatic Madame Rose taps into the positive energy that can keep people safe. This is a world in which evil fights good, with hints of the supernatural, but only hints. These books are truly immersive, multi-layered and they make you believe.

Tony McLean is one of my favourite characters in contemporary fiction. I love his kindness and thoughtfulness. But he’s not rewarded for it. Once more, Tony must suffer in his private life as Emma falls terribly ill. His worry colours the novel and draws us in to it. It’s hard not to care for Tony McLean.

The old favourite characters return here, including the cats, and I must admit to enjoying the return of Jane Louise Dee. This woman is utterly diabolical. Once again, her battle with Tony is sinister and dramatic. I also loved seeing Janie Harrison take on more of a role.

I listened to the audiobook of All That Lives, the first time I’ve done so with this series and I’m so glad I did! It’s brilliantly read by Ian Hanmore and the fact that it’s read in a Scottish accent added so much to the experience of reading a Scottish novel. Tony McLean is fixed in my head after all these years and this narration fitted that view completely, even enhancing it.

All That Lives is the twelfth novel in the series. You don’t need to have read the others to enjoy this one but I think you might want to after you’ve read it! Tony has a history that is well worth discovering and you’ll want to spend more time with Madame Rose. I really hope there are many more to come and, when you’ve read All That Lives, you’ll understand why I’m nervous!

Other reviews
Natural Causes
The Damage Done
Written in Bones
The Gathering Dark

Cold as the Grave
Bury Them Deep
What Will Burn
No Time To Cry (Constance Fairchild 1)

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