Stuart MacBride - Birthdays for the Dead (3 stars)

Stuart MacBride - Birthdays for the Dead

The tartan noir author diverges from the Logan McRae series with a compelling and brutal thriller


A standalone diversion from his Logan McRae series of novels, Stuart MacBride once again demonstrates how he puts the grit into the Granite City. That said, Birthdays for the Dead isn’t set in Aberdeen, instead the action shifts to the fictional Oldcastle, a place where our ‘hero’ DC Ash Henderson wakes to check his teeth are still there from the fight the night before and opens his daughter’s birthday card.

Within is a photo of the same daughter being tortured to death after her abduction five years previously, a vicious memoir sent on her birthday every year since she vanished. That Henderson is investigating the serial killer known as the Birthday Boy and hasn’t told anyone about his own involvement for fear of losing his chance of revenge is compelling enough a set-up, but MacBride’s precise, rough-edged prose style barges the story along with brutal efficiency.

In the world of grey, rain-streaked bypasses and grimy council estates he illuminates, Henderson is revealed as a damaged man with a noble cause, a brute that’s still among the best MacBride’s nasty world has to offer.

Stuart MacBride

MacBride is the author of the DS Logan McRae series of grisly murders and police investigations set in an overtly grey Aberdeen. He has also written several stand alone novels, short stories and The Completely Wholesome Adventures of Skeleton Bob for kids. In 2014 he was crowned World Stovies Champion.

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