August 23

Holiday Reading: Volume 3 – Sarabrand

Sarabrand made the headlines this summer when Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. As the announcement was made I had just finished reading a Sarabrand book – the third of their titles that I had read in a single month. Although I have not read His Bloody Project I need to shout a bit about three brilliant books from the Sarabrand collection which should also command a place on your bookshelves.


Bad Samaritan – Michael J Malone

Bad SamaritanDI Ray McBain returns and his past is catching up with him. He previously came up against a deranged Serial Killer called Stigmata, it seems that Stigmata may now be back and claiming more victims and this time it seems McBain may be a target himself.

McBain is aware of the danger he faces, however, he is investigating the murder of a student – her body found in a dark city centre alley. Cutting through the lies and fake bravado of the Glasgow student population will prove to be a challenge for McBain, particularly when many of his suspect pool interact via social media and are not very good at having a “real” conversation.

Bad Samaritan is a brilliant who-dunnit, a drama of cat and mouse and has an endgame which is equally shocking and thrilling. I love the dynamic between McBain and his partner Alessandra Rossi, the scenes with them both are frequently laugh out loud funny. Glasgow humour with cop humour – double win!

Ale is much more comfortable dealing with the students than McBain and much of this investigation is driven by her. This leaves McBain dealing with his small Stigmata problems, well that and the other issues that Mr Malone is throwing his way. McBain’s story does not always make for easy reading, he is facing some tough issues and you become fully caught up with his story. Anguish and despair are not words you like to associate with a loved character, however, McBain has to contend with this (and more).

You don’t need to have read any previous DI McBain novels to enjoy Bad Samaritan but you WILL enjoy Bad Samaritan it’s fabulous.


And When I Die – Russel D McLean

And When I DieWhat do you do when you are born into one of Glasgow’s most notorious crime families but you just want to live a normal life?  Well if you are Kat Scobie you adapt as best you can but it’s never going to be as simple as walking away.

Family ties are too strong and Kat returns to the city to attend a family funeral, her timing could not be worse as divisions in the family are threatening to tear the Scobie empire apart. Kat’s is trying to avoid coming into contact with John, her former lover, who now works for the Scobies. John is actually an undercover cop who has stepped too far over the line and is now caught up in the attempted murder of one of the Scobie family.

Kat and John are the main focus of And When I Die – they are pursuing different agenda but I desperately hoped everything would resolve in a way that meant they would both be okay at the end of the book.

Sigh. So much for that hope!

Everything is about to come to a head and Russel McLean is not going to give Kat or John an easy time of it, but that is okay as reading And When I Die is an absolute treat. Russel McLean has crafted an extraordinary story which I absolutely devoured in a single sitting it is one of the best stories I have read this summer.

I absolutely loved the depiction of the different characters within the Scobie family. Kat seems so out of place yet knows how to manipulate her family.  John is on the cusp of discovery and one wrong step could see him exposed and likely killed – the tension in his scenes was wonderfully handled.

You need to read this, it is as simple as that.


The Dead Don’t Boogie – Douglas Skelton

The Dead Don't BoogieA new lead character for Douglas Skelton, meet the smart-mouthed investigator Dominic Queste. Dominic is asked to track down a missing teenage girl – he is good at that. But what if finding the girl meant he also found a whole lot of trouble?  Well if he didn’t then The Dead Don’t Boogie would be a much shorter book!

Fortunately it seems Dominic Queste and trouble are old friends and it is not long before Queste finds himself pitted against gangsters, some busy hitmen and an irritated teenage runaway that would just like to be left alone please.

Queste has a delightfully colourful past, a former addict who has cleaned up his act (even if nobody will believe him). He has a sparring partner at the local police station who is just itching to lock him up. And his best friends are retired gangsters who now enjoy a spot of cooking in their downtime.

There is a constant stream of dark humour running through The Dead Don’t Boogie, few can handle the blend of thrills and funnies as well as Douglas Skelton can. You will find that Dominic Queste will have you laughing out loud one minute and then tensely gripping the edge of your book the next.

I enjoy many of the books that I read but The Dead Don’t Boogie had an extra level of enjoyment that many thrillers lack – it is FUN too.


Both Russel and Douglas are launching their books in Glasgow in early September – I am sure that they would love if you came along to ask them tricky questions about their books. Waterstones Argyle Street is the place:  And When I Die (Russel D McLean) on Friday 2nd September at 7pm.  The Dead Don’t Boogie (Douglas Skelton) on Thursday 8th September at 6.30(ish).

Sarabrand have a fabulous collection of books – view the range and order your copies here:

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Posted August 23, 2016 by Gordon in category "5* Reviews", "From The Bookshelf