Books

Natural Causes



I like novels about interesting characters who don’t entirely follow the rules but ultimately care about the greater good. I suppose they don’t really write books about the others: the ones who tick all the right boxes, fill in the paperwork correctly and do exactly what they’re supposed to. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Without rule followers, there’d be nothing for us rebels to break 😉 

Anyway, James Oswald’s novel is about a policeman who cares more about solving his cases that about following orders. Reminiscent of Ian Rankin’s Rebus, DI Tony McLean is a man on a mission to solve a sixty-year-old case that no one else seems to care about. 

The murder was particularly harrowing: a young girl’s organs have been ripped out and spread around a room, and she has been nailed to a spot in the centre. Strange symbols decorate the periphery. McLean resolves to find the killers: no mean feat for a crime that happened so long ago. 

In the meantime, a series of brutal killings are happening around Edinburgh. There are no obvious motives and the police have no clues. But McLean is convinced that they’re somehow linked to the old case. 

Of course, he’s right. But as the case unfolds, it seems like there might be more at work than just the dark side of human nature… 

It was a good book, on the whole, but I was let down by the ending. I can’t really say why without ruining the story, but it just wasn’t the sort of conclusion I enjoy. 

Having said that, it was well-written, and DI McLean was the kind of character I both like and relate to. I also very much like reading books set in Scotland, because for a while it makes my brain revert to its original accent (I grew up in Glasgow), and it makes me happy to see words like “glaickit” after years of not using them. 

Give it a go if you like Ian Rankin but don’t mind suspending disbelief for a few pages. 

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