Maddy's Reviews > Dying Light

Dying Light by Stuart MacBride
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's review
May 04, 10

bookshelves: 2006-reads
Read in October, 2006


At one time the Golden Boy of the Aberdeen, Scotland, police department, Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae is suffering from the ignominy of being assigned to the so-called "Screw-up Squad" led by bristly and unpredictable Detective Inspector Roberta Steel. MacRae was the leader of a misguided raid that left a fellow police officer seriously injured. The golden days are quickly forgotten when things go wrong

Aberdeen is awash in crime. Someone is beating prostitutes to death. A particularly vicious killer is setting buildings on fire after screwing closed any exit doors. And of course, there are the usual petty incidents, husbands disappearing from home, mob types doing their illegal thing. Despite the fact that his reputation has been smeared, both DI Steel and his former boss, DI Insch, rely heavily on MacRae to run important investigations. Logan really has no choice but to pull double duty, despite the negative impact that it is having on his personal life and his love affair with WPC Jackie Watson. MacRae is determined to clear his name and get back to his normal assignment and leave the neurotic DI Steel to her own devices. She's a wonderful creation, prickly, self-centered and possibly a bit mad.

One unique characteristic that MacRae has is an intuitive sense of how to read the evidence. He's able to see things that others overlook, and that serves him well as he doggedly pursues every possible lead in the case of the murdered prostitutes or the heartless arsonist. He never loses his humanity, despite the gruesome things that he uncovers. There are quite a few graphic scenes in the book; however, all of them are relevant and establish the true horror of what these crimes mean. In most cases, it is easy for the reader to skim over the more brutal descriptions of these acts and MacBride's macabre humor helps to leaven the darkness.

Dying Light is wonderfully written. Although the plot is complex, the pacing never lags. I did tire of being told every time that DI Steel lit a cigarette—that probably happened a few dozen times throughout the book and grew irritating. And the resolution treaded very close to implausibility.

In addition to developing a fine cast of characters and depicting the setting quite eloquently, MacBride shines in building a true police procedural. Even the members of the "Screw-up Squad" work together to solve the crimes before them; there's a feeling of teamwork although MacRae at times goes into Lone Wolf mode. I haven't read the first book in this series, Cold Granite, but Dying Light leads me to believe that MacBride has a long, bright writing future ahead of him.

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