Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mini book review: Natural Causes by James Oswald


Title: Natural Causes
Author: James Oswald
Publication date: May 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Crime
Notes: #1 of the Inspector McLean series

Description: Natural Causes is the first novel in the Detective Inspector McLean series, from Sunday Times best-selling author James Oswald. A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago. For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death. Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh's police at a loss. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory. And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil...

My thoughts: I'd heard good things about this author for both this series and his newer fantasy series, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the books. I knew the author was Scottish and the books were set in and around Edinburgh, so that boded well for it painting Scotland & Edinburgh accurately - not something that always happens. I was right - James Oswald begins the story with Inspector Tony McLean stopping at a violent crime scene in one of the affluent areas of the city. Right from the start, Oswald brings Edinburgh to life - or rather death, as Inspector McLean goes from one crime scene to another, interspersed with time at the frantic police station and several visits to the morgue. While at first each crime seems straightforward and isolated, with a killer being found soon afterwards, Tony knows it isn't that simple and tries to untangle all the threads before someone else becomes a victim.

There is a hint of something supernatural in the story and readers are left guessing as to whether there really are ghosts involved, or whether the 'supernatural' events are simply coincidence and imagination. I thought it was a good story and I liked the cast of characters and their developing professional and personal relationship. I do plan to read the next book in the series when I can find it. So, if you're in the mood for some Scottish crime solving with a frustrated Detective Inspector and a hint of something supernatural, I can recommend this one. I'm giving this one 7/10.

~Ailsa

Buy it: The Book Depository

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