Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

The Blurb On The Back:

She can’t prove he did it … But she might die trying. 

Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steel got caught fitting up Jack Wallace – that’s why they demoted her and quashed his sentence.  Now he’s back on the streets and women are being attacked again.  Wallace has to be responsible, but if Detective Sergeant Steel goes anywhere near him, his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good.

The Powers That Be won’t listen to her, not after what happened last time.  According to them, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy.  Perhaps she could try solving a few instead of harassing an innocent man?

Steel knows Wallace is guilty.  And the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer.  The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him? 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Roberta Steel used to be a DCI working with Inspector Logan McRae but then she got caught fabricating evidence to convict Jack Wallace of the rapes she knows he was guilty of committing.  Busted back down to Sergeant, she now spends her days working with DC Stuart “Tufty” Quirrel chasing Aberdeen’s shoplifters and flashers and avoiding having any contact with McRae, which is awkward given that he’s the father of the twins she’s raising with her wife, Susan.

With Wallace out on the streets again and threatening to sue Police Scotland, Steel’s warned to stay away from him but when a woman is found brutalised in a local park, she knows it’s him.  The only problem is that he has an unbreakable alibi and if she tries to break it, Wallace will have her thrown off the force for good …

Stuart MacBride’s standalone crime thriller (which can be read alongside the Logan McRae series) is a funny if at times uneven read that nods at A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books to hilarious effect and although Steel sometimes veers towards caricature, she’s still Scotland’s fiercest detective who takes no rubbish from anyone.

I haven’t read the Logan McRae books (although they’re now on my list) so I didn’t know the history between McRae and Steel but you MacBride gives you enough information to be able to understand it.  I really liked Steel – fierce but caring, I loved the depiction of her relationship with her wife and family and her dedication to her work even if at times she does veer towards being the stereotypical work addicted copper determined to do anything for justice.  Her relationship with the long-suffering Tufty is also well depicted and I liked how MacBride alternates between their points of view to flesh out their respective takes on what’s happening.

Jack Wallace is a little one-dimensional as an antagonist, not least because MacBride doesn’t create much ambiguity about his guilt, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had from the way the storyline is resolved, which really made me laugh.  I did think that the book was a little uneven in the stand offs between Wallace and Steel though because they felt a bit by-the-numbers and predictable.

MacBride channelled his love of A A Milne into the book, which sounds bizarre but is frequently hilarious.  I particularly enjoyed the chapter headings but also the way he incorporates Pooh-like characters into the book (my favourite being DC Owen Harmsworth who’s the Eeyore character and undergoes a traumatic experience when doing a community event at a local school) and he even has a very unusual game of Pooh sticks …

Ultimately this is an enjoyable read that frequently made me chuckle out loud and I will definitely now check out the Logan McRae series.

NOW WE ARE DEAD was released in the United Kingdom on 2nd November 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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