The 11th book in the Logan McRae series written by Stuart MacBride set in Aberdeen, Scotland is one of the best. The Blood Road has all the elements we’ve come to love from a Logan McRae novel: irrepressible humor and awfully funny jokes, ghastly images of murder and mayhem, and extensive details of police procedure as they try to solve truly horrific crimes, some committed by the dregs of humanity and some by people Just Like Us.
The Logan McRae books have quickly become some of my favorites in the genre of British police-procedural, murder-mysteries. They have all the feature of other similarly labeled books but somehow MacBride is also able to successfully include humor, in multiple forms. The Logan books feature macabre jokes, awful puns, ridiculous encounters, and truly farcical situations. I’m shocked the series hasn’t been adapted for television yet like other series (which are also quite good but not nearly as amusing) Peter Robinson’s DCI Alan Banks, Val McDermid’s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan and Elisabeth George’s Inspector Lynley.
What really makes the Logan books extraordinary is while they are often hilarious they are also suspenseful thrillers and interesting mysteries. The very first book begins with Logan returning to work a few months after being stabbed repeatedly in the stomach and experiencing a near-death experience. In fact, Logan earns the nickname “Laz” (short for Lazarus) by his boss, the astonishingly horrible DI Roberta Steele. Steele is one of the great fictional comic inventions in British mysteries. She’s completely without shame or scruples; she regularly takes credit for Logan’s excellent detective work and is a walking H.R. and P.R. disaster. The interactions between Logan and Steele are the primary sources of comic relief in the books, but there are many others as well; first among these are the antics and descriptions of their eccentric police co-workers.
In The Blood Road, the Scottish police are dealing with multiple major (high-profile) crimes simultaneously: several young children have disappeared recently and the public is increasingly anxious about their whereabouts and safety. The book begins with the body of a Scottish police officer being found in a car—the problem is that same officer had been found dead and buried in an official funeral two years before after a supposed suicide. This means that not only was the officer (known by the sobriquet of “Ding-Dong”) a rotten cop, someone (likely Ding-Dong himself) must have killed someone else two years ago to produce a body that could be mistaken for him and now he’s been killed himself! As usual, Logan gets up to his eyebrows deep in solving multiple crimes (which is odd because after the events of the previous book In the Cold Dark Ground Logan now works for Professional Standards, not Major Crimes).
Overall, The Blood Road is one of the best entries in the series, reminiscent of some of the very best which cemented its appeal for me (books 4-7, in my humble opinion). It has multiple laugh out loud (LOL) moments while simultaneously being legitimately suspenseful. Logan gets put through the ringer again physically and the reader isn’t really sure he’s gonna get out of peril without permanent serious consequences (like death!) All of the best sidekicks from the previous books make appearances in this one (Steele, Tufty and of course Rennie!) and even the though the central crimes are truly appalling the book is quite engaging and enjoyable. The sad part of finishing The Blood Road is the knowledge that now there’s only one unread entry in the series remaining: Book 12’s All That’s Dead.
Title: Ancillary Justice.
Author: Stuart MacBride.
Paperback: 496 pages.
Date Published: June 14, 2018.
Date Read: November 25, 2020.
OVERALL GRADE: A- (4.0/4.0).