‘Her mummified body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room…a room which feels as cold as the grave’
I will have to hang my head in shame as I admit that this is my first book in the Inspector McLean series by James Oswald. I have read No Time to Cry, Book 1 in the DC Constance Fairchild series, which most certainly whet my appetite for more by this author (Review HERE)
Cold as the Grave is the ninth, yes the ninth, book in this ‘Sunday Times bestselling phenomenon’ series from a man who has become known as ‘one of Scotland’s celebrated crime writers’
Just published with Wildfire Books, I am delighted to bring you all my review today.
[ About the Book ]
Her mummified body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. A room which feels as cold as the grave.
As a rowdy demonstration makes its slow and vocal way along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Detective Chief Inspector Tony McLean’s team are on stand-by for any trouble. The newly promoted McLean is distracted, inexplicably drawn to a dead-end mews street… and a door, slightly ajar, which leads to this poor girl’s final resting place.
But how long has she been there, in her sleep of death? The answers are far from what McLean or anyone else could expect.
The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case…
[ My Review ]
I don’t do horror but I love a bit of gothic, a bit of otherworldly, books that make me question the existence of certain things. Cold as the Grave did just that.
The book is set amidst the bleakness of an Edinburgh winter. A protest march is about to get under way and the police are in the throes of preparation for what they predict will be a troublesome affair. The expectation is that there will be representation from the right wing/Neo Nazi party intent on causing maximum damage. Inspector McLean has been promoted to Chief Inspector, a role that he does not feel comfortable with. Part of this new managerial position involves a major increase in paperwork, sorting manpower, budgets , attending social events but McLean abhors all that and wants to be out in the field doing what he does best. The confines of an office are just not his style. As the team head out on the streets to face down any potential danger, McLean tags along. As the march takes place, the inevitable trouble begins. McLean, not fully attired with the correct protective gear holds back and stumbles, landing near an old doorway.
‘Layers of festival posters peeled from it like eczema, covering over the old keyhole. There was no handle, but someone had fixed a hasp and padlock. Someone else had levered it open with a crowbar, splintering ancient wood in the process’
McLean is intrigued and carefully opens the door. He is immediately assailed by the overwhelming cold and damp but also a scent that he can’t quite nail. At the back of the room he sees a rag-doll slouched up against a wall but on closer inspection….
‘A cold sensation settled in his gut that had nothing to do with freezing temperature. McLean carefully stepped closer, crouching down in front of the still figure. Close up, its hair was black and wiry, that same dark texture to its skull as its leather-gloved hands. Only as he played the light on one of them, he saw that it wasn’t a glove. The whorls and lines of fingerprints and the deeper creases of palm lines showed clearly. Not a glove, but a hand.
Not a doll, but a child.‘
McLean is taken aback by what he encounters and as he is soon to discover, there is an enigmatic level to this case, with deep layers wrapped in secrecy and fear, mysticism and darkness.
James Oswald highlights multiple themes in this book, immigration, prostitution, trafficking, militant behaviour, racism and more, all very current in today’s society. We also get an insight into the personal life of McLean, a man torn between his own personal relationship with his partner Emma, one that is in severe difficulty, and his relationship to the job. McLean takes his cases very much to the heart, involving himself in every single area, adding to his ever-increasing workload. McLean is feeling the stress levels increasing. As the case gets more complex, McLean is being pressured from above to find answers and find them fast.
As a reader we are taken on an adventure into another world, a world where folk have very strong beliefs in a powerful darkness and what can happen when the two worlds collide. There are multiple threads to this story that are expertly and mindbogglingly interwoven into a thrilling tale of suspense. I could sense a dark atmospheric presence running through this book, a presence I felt never really left it.
Cold as the Grave is a spine-tingling read,an edge-of-your-seat read, one that compels you to turn the pages at speed. There are multiple elements exploring so many topics in this novel…but it is that of the occult that really drew me in and kept me up very late!!
An exciting, gripping and thoroughly engrossing read and one that I am only too happy to recommend.
I would like to thank the publisher for my copy for the purposes of a review.
[ Bio ]
James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award.
As Cold as the Grave is the ninth book in the Inspector McLean Series
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day. writes disturbing fiction by night.