Stuart MacBride

No Less The Devil – Stuart MacBride

91Wvsjo-jULTitle – No Less The Devil

Author – Stuart MacBride

Published – 28 April 2022

Genre – Crime fiction

It’s odd how coincidences in reading crop up, this was next on my kindle so after Craig Robertson’s book I moved on to this Scottish-set standalone by Stuart MacBride. There are few other coincidences beyond location – more on this later.

The main character is DS Lucy McVeigh, quite a mouthy, feisty, independent police officer but one who has an unusual backstory.  She’s working in a team revisiting a flagging investigation into a serial killer ‘the Bloodsmith’ who has eluded them for seventeen months. It’s a small team, lacking motivation and support, carrying out tedious work retracing the investigation back to its beginning. She’s assisted (sometimes ably, sometimes less so) by her sidekick ‘the Dunk’ (DC Fraser).

At the same time she’s approached by a young man who has recently been released from prison. A convicted child killer when he was only a child himself, he’s looking for help – he was part of her study for her MSc and his approach piques her interest.

So the scene is set.

As they retrace the previous investigation’s steps, starting with the Bloodsmith’s first victim, Lucy and The Dunk stumble on to some recent activity – could they be the ones to solve the case?

The more pressure Lucy find herself under the more relevant her backstory becomes and eventually the reader finds out what happened to her and how this might affect her behaviour in the present. Gradually the pace of the action picks up and events spiral – with Lucy at the centre. And then you really need to suspend disbelief and allow the story to carry you along.

I saw someone else compare this to “Hot Fuzz” and I can see similarities, although the humour is more understated, the gore is more ‘overstated’.

In terms of similarities to The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill, as well as the location, there is the    main female character with the disturbing backstory and the deaths of lone people (the Bloodsmith’s victims may have been the sort of people Grace would come across in her line of work). There is also something about the lead characters and their narrative that has a common thread. 

Many thanks to the publisher for the NetGalley. 


Cold Granite – Stuart MacBride

Title – Cold Granite

Author – Stuart MacBride

Published – 2005

Genre – Crime fiction

It is perhaps inevitable that if you buy a book for someone else in your household, there’s a fair chance that sooner or later you will have the opportunity to read it.  So there may have been an ulterior motive in giving “Cold Granite” to my husband for Christmas last year. He’s not a huge fan of crime fiction, but my excuse was that we both enjoyed hearing Stuart talk at Reading  Festival of Crime Writing last November.

So – the book. This was MacBride’s first book and starts off the series that features DS Logan McRae. Oddly the book makes you feel as if you’ve just walked into the middle of a story – but then I guess life is like that. McRae has been off sick for a year (something to do with a stabbing) and an attack on his DI sees him drafted in to work on a case involving the mutilated body of a small boy.

The book is full of sub-plots, and red herrings. but despite being fairly long the story does keep moving along. As well as the murdered boy, McRae also has to contend with missing children, frantic parents, a pushy journalist, and a knee-capped gangster. Despite all of this MacBride also finds time to fill in a little of McRae’s backstory, and a smattering of love interest.

I really like McRae as the main character – he’s a very “normal” detective, without the clichéd flaws of many others in crime fiction. I thought the other main characters were also well written and engaging and they made a great ensemble. I hope they all make a reappearance in the series.

The book has a very Scottish feel, as well as the constant rain and snow, MacBride infuses the whole book with the language and you can hear the Scottish accents in the dialogue.

I know some people will find the subject matter (murdered children) distasteful, but it wasn’t something that I was personally bothered by. In fact I think that it wasn’t actually very graphic and although there is strong language, nothing felt out-of-place or jarred.

If I have any grumbles it would be that there were a few points in the book where I wanted to shout at the pages with frustration (I was commuting – I resisted the temptation). I don’t want to give anything away, but sometimes the investigation seemed to ignore things which seemed obvious to me as the reader “go back & look at such and such” I was (mentally) shouting. With a bit of luck this sort of thing will disappear in the subsequent books.

A great police procedural, I look forward to buying my husband more of MacBride’s books!

Score – 4/5