Nothing connects them, except that someone buried them in the exact same way.
Seven hundred years apart.
– All That Lives
[ About the Book ]
An archaeological dig at the old South Leith parish kirkyard has turned up a mysterious body dating from around seven hundred years ago. Some suspect that this gruesome discovery is a sacrifice, placed there for a specific purpose.
Then a second body is unearthed. This victim went missing only thirty years ago – but the similarities between her death and the ancient woman’s suggest something even more disturbing.
Drawn into the investigation, Inspector McLean finds himself torn between a worrying trend of violent drug-related deaths and uncovering what truly connects these bodies. When a third body is discovered, and too close for comfort, he begins to suspect dark purpose at play – and that whoever put them there is far from finished.
[My Review ]
All That Lives by James Oswald will be published February 17th with Wildfire and is the twelfth book in the Inspector McLean series, one that receives great accolades with the Daily Express stating that ‘Oswald’s writing is in a class above most’. I have read a few books by James Oswald and I always know that when I pick one up I am guaranteed a great experience so I had high hopes for this one and I was not disappointed.
All That Lives mixes crime fiction with a healthy dose of the gothic, as is expected in a James Oswald novel. Edinburgh is under siege as a new deathly drug appears on the scene leaving a trail of dead bodies in its wake but these are not the only bodies surfacing. During a local architectural dig, bones are uncovered. With initial dating suggesting over 700 years old, this is well outside the remit of McLean and his team but he is intrigued.
‘He saw that the subject of their study was lying on its side, knees bent and arms half drawn up to where its chest would have been. He was no expert, but that didn’t look like any Christian burial. A quick glance at the kirk confirmed that the orientation of the grave was all wrong too.’
On a new housing development, bones are uncovered, buried deep in the earth but, this time, it is suspected that they are more recent, probably from within the last thirty years. In its own right it would be an investigation that would have to be followed through with as it’s less than seventy years old but not one that would usually fall under McLean’s remit. He is already caught up in a spate of drug-related deaths and his hands are full. Under pressure, stressed to the max and working for a superior that he clearly has issues with, McLean is feeling the strain of his job. But when another body is discovered, the investigation escalates, with McLean and his team flat out to get to the bottom of these very sinister discoveries. What links these eerie discoveries? How can a 700 year old skeleton be connected to all this? And where does the drug angle fit in?
‘He can’t get the image out of his head. The shock and the fear in that young man’s eyes as he lay at the bottom of the pit. Why did he not fight? Why did he not climb out? And why did they all do exactly as they were told? Like zombies, like good little drones. They picked up the spades and shovelled the earth even as the young man begged for them to stop.’ – Pg1, Chapter 1
McLean always looks beyond the norm and asks questions about the darker side, the supernatural. He has a certain level of respect for the occult that has developed over the years with many investigations he gets entangled in leading him down some very obscure paths. His nemesis is always there in the background, a very powerful business woman, who has her gaze turned on everyone but who’s like Teflon, in that nothing ever sticks to her. McLean does not like her but greater powers decree that he has to acknowledge her, something that really sticks in his craw.
McLean faces some very personal challenges this time around that could be the breaking of him leaving his team very concerned for his wellbeing. He is juggling way too many balls and his focus is slipping. He has a good trustworthy team that he can rely on but there is pressure mounting from the top and McLean soon finds himself in serious danger.
All That Lives is a chilling and very ominous tale of powerful individuals with bad intentions. With little regard to life, these people very much believe in the end justifying the means at any cost, using and disposing of human life at will. McLean is a brilliantly drawn main protagonist with his life spiralling somewhat out of control. He can see the deck slowly collapsing around him but even he can’t stop its trajectory.
This is a complex read, with layer upon layer expertly integrated into an engrossing and disturbing tale. James Oswald yet again nails it as he takes his reader on a threatening and twisty journey full of nasty characters and things that do go bump in the night.
All That Lives is a superb and spellbinding read packed with nefarious goings on, odious individuals and some really shocking scenes, mixed in with some very personal and heartrending events.
Exciting. Thrilling. Macabre.
[ Bio ]
James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day and writes disturbing fiction by night.
Twitter – @SirBenfro