Title – 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.