Look, let's just admit that I'm a huge fan of this series and get it over and done with. Love DI Steel, love her glorious over the topness, love McRae's constant sooking and all being put upon. Love the madness of the world in which they have to try to operate as functioning police members, love the supporting cast, love the gallows humour. Love the whole damn thing. Even love those that don't quite live up to the other books in the series (and let's face it - we're talking bees d's worth of not living up to that which came before).
I'll therefore plead to some lacking in objectivity.
CLOSE TO THE BONE has the requisite things going pear-shaped left right and centre - with cases piling up at the door refusing to maintain an orderly line. Including McRae balancing a personal life that almost, in the last book, accidentally veered towards normal, committed and stable. Meanwhile Steele is behaving like everyone's worst nightmare caricature. Even more-so in this book as she's dragged kicking, screaming, bitching and moaning into "Management". I even, for a very brief period in my life, found myself interested in the outcome of a wildly popular paranormal novel, but only because it looks like some nutcase is basing a series of murders on scenarios from that book.
But, more importantly, underneath the lunacy and the caricature there are little ripples in the reality. Sure Steel is considerably more over the top in the book than she's been in others. Maybe because the idea of Management scares her more than babies, shared parenthood and responsibility. Okay so McRae seems to be playing a slightly straighter bat on the one hand, and yet, maybe this settling down thing has some complications that he's not being completely up front about.
With MacBride there's often been that thing in the undercurrent, that hint of the reality underneath the gallows humour and that glimpse behind the mask that's intriguing. That and the over the top nature of the characters as a coping mechanism for what they must deal with on a day to day basis. Sure in this book some of those elements are stretched out to the point where you can actually see through the elastic. Don't care. Loved it.