Stuart MacBride is another author whose name I was familiar with, but hadn't sampled yet. Well, that's all changed. I just read Birthdays for the Dead and I am hooked.
MacBride grabs you by the throat in the opening prologue and only eases his grip long enough to let you take a breath and then the pressure is back on. Non-stop.
The day's mail includes a birthday card for Detective Constable Ash Henderson's daughter Rebecca - she would have been eighteen. Rebecca went missing days before her thirteenth birthday and it's assumed she ran away. But, Ash knows differently. She was a victim of The Birthday Boy - a sadistic killer who sends parents horrific photos of their dead daughters in a yearly birthday card. And Ash has just received his latest. The Oldcastle police have been chasing this maniac for over eight years and they may have just caught a break - a body has been found. Ash has withheld his cards and daughter's death from everyone as he doesn't want to be taken off the case. But, it's taken a toll - he's divorced, lives in a dive, is dangerously in debt to the local mob, eats painkillers constantly and is a little too quick with his fists. He's a train wreck of a man - and you can't help but hoping he comes out on top.
Whew. Where to start? It took me the first few chapters to catch on to MacBride's style - fast and furious, but also with some funny bits. I know, after what I just described, funny doesn't seem possible. But Ash is paired up with Alice, a very 'different' psychologist, who has her own set of issues. The dialogue between the two is quite witty. On the flip side, Mrs. Kerrigan scared the bejesus out of me. The action truly never stops, the tension never lets up and I was unable to predict where the plot was headed next. Or the ending.
Gentle readers be warned - Birthdays for the Dead is dark, gritty and violent. But, boy oh boy crime fans - it's oh so good! This was my first MacBride, but definitely won't be my last. Read an excerpt of Birthdays for the Dead. I was glad that this was a stand alone book. (But I would like to see more of this character) as MacBride also writes a crime series featuring Logan McRae that I want to start from the beginning.
You can find Stuart MacBride on Twitter and on Facebook.