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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Glasgow, not too far in the future. A new punishment has been devised for the perpetrators of serious crimes. The process is known as halfheading: the offender's lower jaw is removed & they are lobotomized. They are then put to work as cleaners in municipal areas like hospitals, where they serve as a warning to all that crime doesn't pay.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 3rd 2009 by HarperCollins UK (first published 2009)
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"Halfhead" marks the first venture of Scottish author Stuart MacBride into what his publishers seem to want to call science fiction, but is probably more properly classed as science fantasy, or rather future-world thriller -- something of a major departure for an author best known for his Logan McRae series of crime novels, all based in contemporary Aberdeen, a gritty crime series set in the Granite City.

Regardless of its classification, this book is written in MacBride's trademark no-holds barr
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
First published in 2009, ‘Halfhead’ is the seventh novel to be published for the Scottish author Stuart MacBride. Set in the not too distant future, MacBride’s brutally dark vision of Glasgow throws together echoes of Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi vision of the future - ‘Blade Runner’ with an even more gritty and home-grown edge.

Glasgow has been separated in two with the poor and under privileged, who are now crammed into large high-rise blocks, whilst the other wealthier citizens of Glasgow li
Stuart MacBride is one of my favourite crime writes – in fact, I often imagine Stuart MacBride and Sharon Bolton engaging in fisticuffs for the number one spot – and I gladly dive into any new book he releases. The Logan McRae series is my favourite – partly because I live in Aberdeen and I love going around the city and being able to say ‘that is where it happened’, but mostly because my addiction to the series grows stronger and stronger – but I do not shy away from his other releases. For qui ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Definitely not my kind of book. The constant despair lept from the pages so I closed the covers and that was that.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
What would happen in a world where virtual reality is such a vital escape for people that they occasionally lose their minds and become out of control cannibals if it goes offline for a moment? According to Stuart MacBride, the new punishment for criminals would be to have half of their face removed, get a lobotomy, and sent to work menial labor as an example to society at large about what happens when you break the law.

But what if one of these procedures goes wrong? Then you have a serial kille
Alex Sheldon
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
Crime thrillers can quickly become overly repetitive as well as predictable, since they almost always feature a serial killer of some sort, and a detective, ex-military or journalist on their trail. Sometimes it's personal, sometimes not - either way, at the end of the day, what keeps me coming back is a new fresh twist on the old formula.
Which is why I was delighted to stumble upon Halfhead - an action packed crime thriller set in the near future - thus many giving it the sci-fi tag in the proc
Paul Wardman
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just finished this half an hour ago.


Macbride's Logan Macrae series is dark and gritty but Logan absolutely plays by the rules and is treated like a dogsbody. His other work really takes the handcuffs off and cranks up the violence tenfold. This was a perfect example of this. Some of the violence was incredibly graphic, it wasn't always told as it was happening but we were still "treated" to a description of what had transpired. At times I questioned how his mind came up with some o
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Review to come.
Jessica Strider
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, sf
Pros: interesting mystery, varied characters, good pacing

Cons: lots of gore & disturbing descriptions

In a future where convicted criminals are lobotomized and have half their jaw removed a convicted serial killer halfhead has regained a sense of herself, over the mutilated body of the man she’s just killed. Assistant Network Director William Hunter has nightmares about the last time he visited Sherman House, the multi-storied residence where he fought during the VR riots. He’s not happy retu
Lilla Smee
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
[There's a small spoiler in the last paragraph - so stop reading when you get to the ellipsis!]

For a science fiction crime novel, written by a crime writer, I found the science fictional elements far more interesting than the crime element (serial killer psychopath blood violence - the usual). The story is set in a futuristic Glasgow struggling against increasingly mindless violence (attributed to "VR syndrome"), where the underprivileged are crowded into high-rise slums (connurbs), and where c
Feb 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that Sci-Fi is not really my thing but given the author I thought that I would give it a go. The book is set in Glasgow in the near future where the population are housed in huge tower blocks. Where there are people there is crime, and the serious criminals are dealt with harshly. They are lobotomised, and their lower jaws removed (hence the term halfheads) and are then set to complete menial tasks. Throw in a shadowy organisation experimenting on residents, and it all starts to ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this book but when I did it was great. The whole concept of it being set in the future was a bit weird, as where the changes that have taken place because of the future.

The book is about a "halfhead" - someone who has had the lowe part of their face removed and their brain lobotomised due to them being convicted of a violent crime and trained to do menial tasks such as cleaning - who has not been lobotomised properly and manages to get her life back and to continue
Angela Verdenius
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Though set in the future, isn't isn't so far out that there are no similarities to today. It's just like taking a couple of steps into the future and recognizing everything, which is great, because it makes it so much more real.

Police procedure, thriller, futuristic touches, villains to turn your stomach, a society that is a little worrying LOL.

The story is awesome, if a little... let's put it this way, Stuart McBride has a way of making you cringe a little inside when nasty things happen LOL. A
May 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Oodles of violence, tons of gougings, beheadings, mutilations, boiled hearts, burnings, eviscerations. Lobotomies, necrophilia, brain removals, child murders. Hardly any character comes through this without Tom and Jerry levels of violence inflicted on them. I didn't find this shocking or gripping, just a bit dull. The characters didn't come into focus and the apocalyptic setting – in which criminals were turned into lobotomised, slaves with their jaws removed – was not convincingly developed, w ...more
Adrianna (Erato Czyta)
„Ubezwłasnogłowieni” – czyż ten tytuł już sam w sobie nie brzmi zachęcająco i nie wzbudza ciekawości?
Mnie od razu ta pozycja zaintrygowała, a jej opis tylko bardziej podsycił chęć jej przeczytania.
Czy było warto?

W budynku Sherman House (Glasgow) zostają znalezione zmasakrowane zwłoki mężczyzny. Na miejsce zbrodni zostaje wezwany wicedyrektor sekcji z Centrum Przeciwdziałania Zagrożenia – Will Hunter i to właśnie on musi wyjaśnić tę sprawę, ku swemu wielkiemu niezadowoleniu, ponieważ miejsce zb
Marionetka Literacka
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, polish
Czasami człowiek myśli o tym, że jeśli egzystuje głównie w powieściach jednego gatunku, to kolejnym razem ciężko będzie go czymkolwiek zaskoczyć. Sama byłam tego pewna – do czasu. Czy coś się zmieniło?

Przestępcy, którzy zostali poddani lobotomii, skazani na wieczne cierpienie poprzez okaleczenie oraz oddelegowani do wykonywania prac społecznych to właśnie ubezwłasnogłowieni. Bez możliwości powrotu do normalności. Jednak jedna z nich, doktor Fiona Westfield trafia do rzekomej rzeczywistości, a W
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Man, S. MacBride can really knock these darker novels out of the park. Halfhead is a classic crime novel with a twist, it is set in a futuristic society. The book isn't post apoctalyptic, but there has been noticeable society degradation.

A lot of the reviews focus on the concept of the 'Halfhead', they claim that this practice isn't realistic - but in this context I had no issue with it. Halfhead's are former criminals. Instead of being put in prison for life, or executed, they are lobotomized a
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, crime
My 2 favorite genres - crime and sf - should be a win/win but didn't quite make it. As an avid reader of sf this just didn't feel right. Some things seemed a long way in the future (the weather, halfheading, society, international politics). Some things seemed not advanced enough (internal procedures and professional standards). Somethings seemed just wrong - like the clumsiness, unreliability and overkill of the weapons.

In the end it felt like a good crime novel with some futuristic trimmings,
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Put it this way. If you saw the new Judge Dredd and thought "that was pretty awesome. I'd like to read a story like that but where in between the fighting they tried to figure out evil crimes and conspiracies by government agents, serial killers, and maniacs - oh, and there's these freaky zombies everywhere," well, you're in luck. It's not for the faint-hearted, nor is it a masterpiece of philosophy, language or commentary on the human condition that will leave you mentally enriched, but it's pr ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read that one some time ago, after stumbling upon it in a yard sale.
What I remember : grimy-gory atmosphere, convincing future world-building, an interesting meanie and a plot complicated enough to keep me interested to the last page.
Recommanded it to my brother, who found it too gory for his taste, but read it to the end nonetheless.
Kasia (Kącik z książką)
Otwarte zakończenie zaostrza apetyt na kontynuację. Może jej doczekamy? Fani mocnych wrażeń i o stalowych nerwach powinni być zachwyceni.

Cała opinia:
Dez Nemec
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Really interesting and different.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Not Stuart MacBride's usual but close enough that Logan MacRae fans will love it.
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Looking back now, I struggle to think of why this book caught my eye and interest. I think I confused it with another book I had meant to read.

Either way, this is a science fiction serial killer thriller. It's set in a Glasgow of the future that is very Blade Runner in look and feel. It is about a somewhat maverick but skilled detective type character, trying to solve some grisly murders. In this world, criminals are halfheaded - their lower jaw is removed, all their orifices are stitched up, th
Rishika S.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Halfhead, simply put, is a gory, chilling, fast paced crime thriller. It's set in a slightly futuristic time, but it isn't really Sci-Fi and it surely isn't for the faint of heart.

MacBride leaves no stone unturned in depicting the deepest of evil that there can be in human beings. He puts together a grotesque, vivid picture that can become too much to take for some. But, he also keeps the story moving relentlessly. It takes a few pages for the reader to really get a grasp of what's happening bec
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think the quality of the book is probably four stars, but I loved it so much that who cares? This is why Stuart MacBride is one of my favourite authors.

There were twists continuously throughout. There were creepy, fucked up people everywhere, doing horrible, fucked up things to other people. If "fucked up" offends you, this book probably will too. It is not for the faint of heart. There is lots of gore and lots of detail: I loved it. Yet there is still a good plot too, with a main character wh
Stuart B MacBride, a good Scottish crime writer, follows in the footsteps of his compatriot Iain M Banks by adding a middle initial and writing Sci-Fi. Not as successfully, though, in my opinion. The book actually crosses genres - it can be called sci-fi because it creates and populates a believable if unattractive future world, but it is also a crime novel, with the future police chasing a murderer, and it is also a thriller.
It features a dystopian future Glasgow, with a climate seriously warm
Jo Deurbrouck
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
So have you seen the cable series, 'Spartacus,' in all its blood-spattered, orgy-filled lushness?

Maybe if you did you had the same reaction to it I did: you watched partly because there was something funny - the way an unkind caricature is funny - about the shots in which color-saturated blood is the main character; something satirical in the implied assumption that we want to see all the flying body parts they can possibly cram into an hour. You watched because you got right away that, unlike
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it

Rated 9.2/10 (Awesome!)

There are worse things than the death penalty...

My Thoughts: The first sentence had me hooked and pretty much set the theme up for the whole novel in an instant. A really dark and gritty sci-fi read with plenty of shocking gore and a racing plotline. I couldn't tear my eyes from the pages.

I had the privilege of a quick exchange of Tweets with Mr MacBride as I was reading this on the train to work:

27 Nov Me @Gemininski
Reading Halfhead
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SciFi and Fantasy...: Weird Habbits 15 112 Aug 13, 2013 05:20AM  
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Aka Stuart B. MacBride

The life and times of a bearded write-ist.

Stuart MacBride (that's me) was born in Dumbarton -- which is Glasgow as far as I'm concerned -- moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musi

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