A full plate of grisly and baffling crimes challenges Aberdeen DI Logan McRae and his contentious colleagues.
The scene of a screaming man trapped in a burning tire turns out to be from a movie filming locally, but the next morning, Logan is called to a murder site that uncannily resembles the film shoot. Unfortunately, an annoyingly chipper new sidekick, DS Lorna Chalmers, has beaten him to the scene and is eager to impress. More female annoyance comes from his acerbic boss, Chief Inspector Steel, and from his far-from-helpless old Mum. The medical examiner determines that the male victim was stabbed, burned and strangled, but Steel balks at the expense needed to sort out the crime. A turf war with another ME complicates the matter still further. Meanwhile, other cases beckon. A distraught mother, Mrs. Garfield, seems to blame police inertia for the plight of her missing teen daughter Agnes, but Logan and Chalmers find more evidence of escape from a repressive environment than of abduction. Agnes' boyfriend, Anthony Chung, provides a solid lead in the ensuing search. More corpses in tires are discovered around the city, a gang war breaks out, and Asian immigrants fall victim to disabling attacks. Could some or all of these cases be related? Can Logan adjust to his chirpy new partner? And what sick perp has been leaving random skeletal remains around his house?
MacBride's gritty prose and righteous, reckless hero (Birthdays for the Dead, 2013, etc.) improve his overstuffed, overheated plot.