Saturday, 15 August 2015

Broken Skin by Stuart MacBride (Logan McRae, #3) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

In the chill grey of an Aberdeen February...

...violence is just around the corner...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 568
Chapters: 59
Publisher: Harper

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Whenever my friends see me with a thriller like Broken Skin, it's always the same question: How can you read about brutal violence and murder, are you crazy?

Crazy, maybe. I think it surprises them mainly because I'm a big wimp.

In fact, I think I have the perfect picture that describes me...

It's a question that requires a long answer, but authors like Mr MacBride, and novels such as Broken Skin, go a long way to doing it for me. I love smartly plotted stories and characters; I love twists and turns; I love the way a writer can trudge through the human condition: The good, the bad, and the choices that lead to both. Throw in how expertly they can manipulate their writings to enhance every scene they concoct, and even the staunchest of non-readers will be flabbergasted.

Broken Skin? Well, it's on point with everything I've said above.


Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.) 

There's a serial rapist on the prowl.
A dead man whose anus has been ripped apart.
An eight-year-old murderer who can't be found...
DS Logan McRae is lumbered with the work from that and more.
And with personal troubles mixing with professional, will any work get done.
Or will there be killers left to stalk the night...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Dark, gritty and real sums up Broken Skin in a nutshell. There are so many cases within this entry to the series that I was caught off guard. Luckily, the author skillfully weaves a compelling and disturbing tale as he pulls all the threads together. The story starts with a bang to the... well, balls - pardon my language - literally. And from there even the slower moments are captivating. 

Surprises lie in wait, and they manage to appear without any warning; adrenaline-inducing shocks that send tingles up your spine. Nothing feels out of place in the whirlwind of this world, and the personal and professional bleed together in some invigorating ways. 

The dark themes and scary realism that this series has in spades gives you food for thought. Like the newspaper reports we see almost everyday about police misconduct, yet their achievements are barely written about. Like the fact that criminals in this day and age have access to a wide range of tools that help them, where our police force are restricted by mounds of red tape. Stuart MacBride successfully gives us a glimpse into what the life of an officer of the law has to go through, has to suffer; to both his professional and personal lives.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

Broken Skin, with its abundance of cases, is a slower journey than its predecessors. But, that's not a bad thing. The majority of scenes give the story and characters something more with each passing page. There's action and horrific events that hit you hard; revelations that you swear can't be attributed to the world you live in; and distinctive characters that drive it all home.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

I LOVE this series' cast of misfits. Harking back to that whole realism thing, and I'm happy to report each character feels like a compete human being. There are a few, like I've said before, that don't have much time in the spotlight, but the ones that do more than make up for it. My favourites:

Logan, naturally. He's just your average, morally sound, but not perfect, man. He works hard - too hard, in my opinion - to bring the darkest-minded individuals to justice. He's smart, often picking up threads of information that everyone else has missed. His personal life with Jackie really takes a hit in this entry to the series, and there are some aspects I can see popping up in the next instalment to hound the two of them. 

Jackie 'Ball Breaker' Watson actually starts off the story by fully embodying her nickname. It's awesome! There's a sharper focus on her than before. One of the cases messes with her, and the failings of the system surrounding that case really twist her perceptions. She's tough, but the emotional hit will almost certainly affect her later on.

DI Steel, has jumped to joint number one on my list of favourite characters in this series. In Broken Skin, she is just downright hilarious! Some of the comments she makes had me roaring with laughter. Her one-liners are terrific, and her personality works so well.

DI Insch is more highly strung than before. He and Logan still work great together, but Insch becomes far more imposing.

A fantastic cast that I can't wait to continue on with.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Broken Skin has a lot of dark, gallows humour, and it's disturbingly hilarious. Mr MacBride walks up to that line between acceptable and plain gross, and laughs at it. The way he works the comedy into the story and characters highlights what a phenomenal storyteller he is.

The Scottish slang is back, of course, and it feels stronger in this entry. It doesn't hamper anything, and I'm certain those that aren't familiar with it will get on fine.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

How about diving into the next book?

I like that plan.

Previous Instalment: Dying Light
Next Instalment: Flesh House

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