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Written in Bones by James Oswald

February 21, 2017

The roots of murder run deep…

 When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.

And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city…

This is the 7th book in the Inspector McLean series and I simply do not understand why I have not read the previous 6 books. That’s certainly something I will put right very shortly. I’m sure it helps to have read the first 6, but that did not stop me enjoying Written in Bones immensely and it works fine as a stand-alone book.

The writing really flows well. D.I.McLean is a likeable character; his interactions with his colleagues are often terse and difficult, but believable.

A wee boy walking his dog finds a dead man stuck on a tree near Jawbone Walk in the Meadows in Edinburgh. The boy tells McLean that a dragon dropped the body there. McLean realises that the body is an ex-colleague – a corrupt officer who served time in prison and then rehabilitated started a charity to help drug addicts, and has since become extremely well connected.

McLean’s investigations are made more difficult by the fact that his bosses, senior officers at the station, are seemingly engaged in a back covering exercise and he has to resort to old contacts to get to the truth.

When he realises that an old enemy is likely to be behind this death, his investigations become more life threatening and when his partner, Emma falls ill he is seriously concerned. More deaths follow before McLean and his colleague, P.C. Harrison, co-opted from the beat to help in his enquiries, are able to follow the tangled web of clues to reveal the true perpetrator.

This was a really good book and the complicated plot was brought to life through excellent tale telling and really strong characterisation with good descriptive passages.  The seedy side of Edinburgh is beautifully contrasted with the affluent political capital in a way which underlines the incessant struggle between privilege and poverty.

Highly recommended.

Written in Bones is published by Michael Joseph on February 23rd.

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