All That’s Dead by Stuart MacBride

Published by HarperCollins on 30th May 2019

Firstly, I must confess, I am a huge fan of Stuart MacBride and his Logan McRae series and have been since book one, as always, MacBride has not let me down.

Set in Aberdeen, McRae’s next case is rather political, he is trying to chase down a disturbed maniac who has a penchant for maiming pro-English supporters in Scotland. As usual the case does not progress as well as it should and he is soon getting grief from above and below and as his role in Professional Standards demands, he is also trying to keep everything and everyone on the straight and narrow.

This story has all the usual excellent one-liners and the beloved characters from the previous books in the series. Tufty, Rennie and Steel are all there to ‘support’ Logan but you do have to wonder how much they help and much they hinder.

For me, MacBride has developed a unique tone of writing all of his own It is enjoyable, witty and has the ability to draw you in and not let go. It is easy to invest your time in the story as it is so well written and the characters, which you quickly build a rapport with all have their own little quirks.

MacBride is one of my favourite authors so I suggest If you haven’t read any of the Logan McRae novels and you like a good crime thriller then go right back to the beginning and enjoy the whole series from start.

A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom

Published by Orion on 5th September 2019

This is Sam Hurcom’s debut novel and it is Victorian gothic crime at its chilling best.

Set in South Wales, Thomas Bexley, is a forensic photographer and he has been sent by the police in London to investigate the mysterious and violent death of a young woman. From the outset he is treated with suspicion by the villagers and they seem to be willing to go to any lengths to hinder his investigation. All this adds to the tense atmosphere around the village, but why are they so reluctant to help him? Clinging to their old superstitions, Bexley starts to struggle to differentiate between reality and the supernatural.

There are a number of red herrings thrown in to the mix in an attempt to throw the reader off the scent and it did keep me guessing right until the end. There are plenty of sinister twists and turns throughout the story to keep it interesting.

As first novels go, this is an excellent debut and I look forward to more from Hurcom in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

Published by Canongate Books in April 2019

This is a book that I had heard so many things about that when I spotted it at the Edinburgh Book Festival I grabbed myself a copy and started reading it on the train journey home. I loved this book so much that I don’t think my review will do it justice.

Set in Victorian London, the story centres around domestic investigator Bridie and her search for a missing young girl, the daughter of a baronet no less. Assisted by her 7ft housemaid Cora and a ghost named Ruby, Bridie is set the task of tracking down the whereabouts of the mysterious Christabel, a child that is quite clearly extraordinary and one that is wanted by others who are willing to pay a good price to have her. Little does Bridie know when she takes on the job that her path will cross with old foes from her past. The book flits seamlessly between Bridie’s childhood and her current day investigation, normally I find this irritating but here I found it worked really well and didn’t disrupt my enjoyment of the story.

This is a book that offers the reader everything, it has kidnap, murder and mythical that all run fluidly together, no one element overrides the other and that is down to the skilful writing from Jess Kidd. It is a very witty and enjoyable read and Jess Kidd has created a wonderful set of characters that I really hope we see more of in the future.

This is in the top 5 of my favourite books of 2019, and I don’t say that lightly as I have read some crackers but there is just something so wonderfully unique about Things in Jars that puts it up there with the very best.