Kathy Davie's Reviews > The McDead

The McDead by Ken Bruen
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's review
Dec 13, 11

bookshelves: action, suspense
Read in December, 2011

Third in the Inspector Brant crime series set in southeast London and revolving around the corrupt, brutish Detective Sergeant Tom Brant.


My Take
Dang, Bruen is dark! Murder, beatings, suicide, betrayal. And those are the highlights! Actually, I'm lying. McDead actually seems to have a ray of very faint hope in it. Falls and Cohen get a win. I'm anxious to see where it goes next.

Not much in the way of books or music in this story---very un-Bruen.

Part of what I like about this series is its reality. I'm not saying that all cops are corrupt but that the ones who are in this series all exhibit humanity at its worst and bits of its best. I actually like Brant in spite of the bad because he does have a care for the people with whom he works. He's also aware of their faults and what or who he must protect. He's still an ass…

Roberts? Nah. I hope his wife takes him to the cleaners. I want the Super taken down. And I'm falling in love with Porter Nash. A hopeless love, dang it, but a girl can sure appreciate his sense of humor and tact.

I think this is another of the reasons I like this series..
"The officer looked round, said, '...Were you close, guv?'
'Close?'
'You know, like regular contact?'
'I spoke to him ten years ago...maybe eleven.'
'Ah, so you weren't, then?'
Roberts turned his full look on the officer, said, 'No wonder you're a detective.' "


Then there's the moment when Roberts turns the doctor's oh-so-cute jokes back on him:
" 'Yes you are and, with care, there's no reason you shouldn't live another six months.' When he saw Roberts [sic] face, he said, 'Just kidding, a little medical levity. How often do I get to deliver good news?'

On his way out, Roberts said, 'Thank you. I'll do my damnest [sic] now to stop the malpractice suit.'
'What?'
'Just kidding, doc.' "


Great t-shirt: "I am a natural blond. Please talk slowly".


The Story
His brother brutally murdered, Roberts is on a tear and it's only Brant's warning that keeps him from destroying his career. Meanwhile, WPC Falls has been sent undercover with all sorts of ego strokes to find the rapist who is obviously gearing up to his first kill with PC McDonald as her backup.

It's Roberts and Brant's trip to Logan's real estate office that sets off the Masonic hand of protection reaching out to the Superintendent. Then there's the advice Brant gives the new girl, Cohen, about subduing drunks—"Don't get too close". She'll pay attention next time. The Super's wife gets mugged for her Cartier watch and gets a Lorus slung at her...guess Brant'll get his watch back. Wait, he gets two back! Right after he helps his ex-wife's husband off a shoplifting charge.

Tommy Logan's party to celebrate pushing Roberts and Brant off his case is loaded. Loaded with a band he's holding hostage to play for him. The threat of acid being thrown at the singer's model girlfriend is pretty powerful. The party the Superintendent is invited to and which Roberts and Brant crash. The same one the Super has cops protecting it.


The Characters
Detective Sergeant Brant has bugged the Superintendent's office so he can stay ahead of all the attempts to get rid of him. He's an amazingly brutal and corrupt cop yet he has moments of gold.

Chief Inspector Roberts has been suffering with cancer for the past 18 months. His wife left him. His career is in jeopardy. And his brother was just murdered. Superintendent is just another kind of corrupt. The wrong kind when he's protecting the criminals.

PC McDonald is a suck up, a jerk, and tapped by the Super to take Brant down. Who gets his comeuppance in, well, really, a kind way. When he deserves so much less. Kindness that is. Porter Nash is a new transfer. The rumor is that he's a pillow-biter, a poufter. The day he shows up at the station, there's graffiti scrawled all over the gents and ladies: "Sergeant Porter Nash sucks any dick". His response? Not any dick. He draws the line at Brant's. I'm gonna like him...so will you when you find out who wrote the graffiti!

WPC Falls has been through a lot so far. Attempted murder, a beating that resulted in a miscarriage. It was so bad she considered suicide but Roberts and Brant rescued her, stayed with her, brought her back. Now, she's helping to achieve a bit of revenge. Rosie. Well, Rosie was bitten by a wifebeater with AIDS. She couldn't take the stress of it. She's been replaced by Sarah Cohen. A nice, sweet girl. Gawd help her.

Tommy Logan is taking over the neighborhood crime king mantle from Bert and is definitely not an improvement. He makes Brant look like an angel. Tina Logan is Tommy's wife. Poor thing. He beats her just for living so it was no surprise when she fell in love with Tony Roberts. Poor Tony. Harry is Logan's lawyer. And a Mason. Mick Ryan is Logan's lieutenant. Another brute. Except for the face he shows Falls.

Barry Lewis is the Clapham Rapist whom WPC Falls has been sent undercover to find; "hey, they all bin askin' fer it".

Spiro Zacharopoulos owns the Spirit of Athens, a Greek taverna; he's also a snitch who runs into a bit of trouble. Neville Smith is a stockbroker and drives like an ass. He's about to pay for it when he flips off Tommy Logan. I must confess, as much as I despise Logan, I did rather enjoy his idea of punishment! Of course, it just set Logan's doom. Oh darn, not. Paul Johnson is Brant's ex-wife's husband. The one pulled in for shoplifting a tin of beans.


The Cover
The cover is stark with a glimpse of a fist holding a butcher's knife against a black background. I haven't a clue as to the why of the title.
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