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TonyTalbot

TonyTalbot

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Nicholas Nickleby
Charles Dickens, Mark Ford

3/5: Dead Men's Bones

Dead Men's Bones: Inspector McLean 4 by Oswald, James (2014) Paperback - James Oswald
Plain-clothes Inspector Tony McLean is assigned two seemingly unrelated murder cases: A tattooed man found in a river and the death of a Scottish politician. Of course, the cases soon become related...

This was a loaner from a neighbour, and it reminded me why I never got into police-procedurals that much. The cookie-cutter plots are always like this:

1) Grizzled Cop(tm) has seen too many things, and has a lot of personal baggage
2) Said Grizzled Cop(tm) is always breaking the rules, but always comes out with a result
3) Senior officers despise / don't respect Grizzled Cop(tm), but let him have free reign anyway
4) Grizzled Cop(tm) has a loyal, small band of friends who support him all the way; everyone else is an enemy or an obstacle.

That's about it. Authors can write story after story based on those attributes and laugh all the way to the bank. (Although, to be fair, Isaac Asimov made a career out of the Three Laws of Robotics...)

The writing was good, the characters everything you expected them to be and the locations nicely described. It's like a comfy pair of slippers; you know exactly where you left them, and where they'll be when you get home. No custard in the toe or nails in the heel. It wasn't that hard to figure out where it was all going.

What made this one more bearable happened about three-quarters of the way through, when the story took a screaming supernatural left turn. It should have bounced me out of the story, but that's when it broke the cookie-cutter mould and started to fly.

It was subtly amusing the way the author played the...occurences...in logical terms, allowing the supernatural elements to be all subtextual.
 The word we're all looking for when we hear the word supernatural cult - devil worship - doesn't pop up until three pages from the end, for instance.
(show spoiler)