No Less The Devil
by Stuart MacBride Published by Bantam Press
on 28/04/2022 Genres: Thriller Pages:
466 Format: ARC Source: NetGalley Buy on Amazon
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It's been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.
Now isn't the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn't have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one's ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he's back on the streets again - battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy 'They' are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.
It sounds like paranoia, but what if he's right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy's ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn't the only monster out there? And what's going to happen when Lucy goes after them?
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
For my birthday last year my daughter bought me The Coffin Makers Garden, my first Stuart MacBride book, and I absolutely loved it. Since then I’ve started to work through his back list so when I saw he had a new novel available I was really excited. This excitement continued for the first 3/4 of the book. I absolutely love MacBride’s dry sarcastic wit. I usually listen to his books on Audio as the inclusion of the songs from the radio is pure comedy genius – it has caused me to laugh out loud while wandering the food aisle of M&S, meaning I have received a number of strange looks (especially since my earbuds are usually hidden by my hair.
Anyway, back to the book. My first disappointment was that this is an Oldcastle novel but it doesn’t follow on from the other Oldcastle books, there is no Ash Henderson and no Alice McDonald – Dr McFruitloop (one of my most favourite characters EVER).
We have a few threads going on here – crazy posh kids murdering homeless dude, the Bloodsmith murdering people, removing organs and writing in their blood, DS Lucy McVeigh being terrorised by a stalker while struggling with PTSD plus there is a recently released child killer who is convinced that someone “they” is out to get him and so he needs protection. It was sometimes difficult to keep up with all of the different threads that were going on and I did need to concentrate.
And then we hit the twist. We all know that with any good thriller there’ll be a twist, and this was no exception, I didn’t see this one coming – and I didn’t like it. I felt like the ending kind of let down the rest of the book.
It kind of reminds me of Stephen King’s The Stand, it’s a really long book and then you get to the end and go WTF just happened. I’m not happy with that. Now granted, the hand of God didn’t come down and wipe out Oldcastle but still, it would have got 4.5 or 5 stars with a stronger ending.
About Stuart MacBride
The life and times of a bearded write-ist.
Stuart MacBride was born in Dumbarton — which is Glasgow as far as he’s concerned — moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musical notes (why the hell couldn’t they have taught us the notes in the first bloody place? I could have been performing my earth-shattering rendition of ‘Three Blind Mice’ at the Albert Hall by now!); appeared in some bizarre World War Two musical production; did my best to avoid eating haggis and generally ran about the place a lot.
Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill — a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen — where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat’s doodad.
And so to UNIVERSITY, far too young, naive and stupid to be away from the family home, sharing a subterranean flat in one of the seedier bits of Edinburgh with a mad Irishman, and four other bizarre individuals. The highlight of walking to the art school in the mornings (yes: we were students, but we still did mornings) was trying not to tread in the fresh bloodstains outside our front door, and dodging the undercover CID officers trying to buy drugs. Lovely place.
But university and I did not see eye to eye, so off I went to work offshore. Like many all-male environments, working offshore was the intellectual equivalent of Animal House, only without the clever bits. Swearing, smoking, eating, more swearing, pornography, swearing, drinking endless plastic cups of tea… and did I mention the swearing? But it was more money than I’d seen in my life! There’s something about being handed a wadge of cash as you clamber off the minibus from the heliport, having spent the last two weeks offshore and the last two hours in an orange, rubber romper suit / body bag, then blowing most of it in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. And being young enough to get away without a hangover.
Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small ‘a’), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living.
It was about this time I fell into bad company — a blonde from Fife who conned me into marrying her — and started producing websites for a friend’s fledgling Internet company. From there it was a roller coaster ride (in that it made a lot of people feel decidedly unwell) from web designer to web manager, lead programmer, team lead and other assorted technical bollocks with three different companies, eventually ending up as a project manager for a global IT company.
But there was always the writing (well, that’s not true, the writing only started two chapters above this one). I fell victim to that most dreadful of things: peer pressure. Two friends were writing novels and I thought, ‘why not? I could do that’.
Took a few years though…
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