Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride is not for the queasy or faint of heart. The first of MacBride's DS "Lazarus" MacRae mysteries (of which there are now seven), this introduction gives us gruesome and gritty crime peppered with dark humor. While the mystery is driven by a series of grisly child murders, the real star of the book is the colorful and fully-realized cast of characters. DS MacRae himself is a compellingly flawed detective, still physically limited by the brutal stabbing he suffered just one year ago, not to mention the tension of working alongside his ex-girlfriend the coroner. His supporting cast, from the strong and sensible WPC Jackie Watson, to greasy sensationalist journalist Colin Miller, to DI Insch with his insatiable sweet tooth and an amateur acting career, manage to be both entertaining and relatable.
When the story turns to danger and violence, with thrilling sequences of physical fights and dangerous foot chases, your attachment to these characters heightens the tension, making for serious page-turning prose. While the gruesome nature of the book makes for poor meal time reading, the dry and dark humor throws the more disturbing passages into relief. While the book is quite enjoyable, it does fall apart a little in the final act, but this doesn't mar the overall reading experience.
Tim @ Central