Writing a long term series has to create some issues for authors that probably some of we fans rarely consider. All we want is the next book. IN THE COLD DARK GROUND is the 10th in the Logan McRae series from Stuart MacBride, and I'm really sorry about this but I want the 11th pretty well now. As in straight away.
It goes without saying that I've always been a huge fan of this series, and aside from the wonderful, strong, often slightly eccentric characters, the reason for that is the constant changes in circumstance that McRae, DCI Steel and those around them find themselves dealing with. Lives change in these books, not always in a good way, and IN THE COLD DARK GROUND everyone seems to end up dealing with some really hefty crap.
Whilst you'd think that the personal would be more than enough for McRae to be going on with, along comes the pain-in-the-neck upper echelon type in the form of a new Superintendent of the Serious Organised Crime Task Force who muscles her way into his investigation of a missing person who turned up dead in very odd circumstances. Mind you, that's nothing compared to how close Professional Standards are getting to DCI Steel - close enough to find McRae doing a turn as a tightrope walker between a couple of particularly tricky snakepits. Mind you, nothing from the professional side of life compares to the bucket loads of grief that come to McRae when Wee Hamish Mowat dies leaving rival gangs eyeing his territory, and McRae in charge of his estate.
Needless to say, IN THE COLD DARK GROUND is exactly the sort of slightly manic action, pressure, personal complications, don't blink or you'll miss something roller-coaster that is a Logan McRae novel. There's always just enough to tweak the heart strings, more than enough to make a reader laugh, and the slightest feeling that everybody's gone a bit mad. As you'd probably do when the weather's always wet, cold and dank, the police house remains a dump, your colleagues are still a bunch of numpty's and what was already a really sucky personal life has just got a whole lot bloody worse.
As much as I'd love to say that if you're a new reader to this series than just get on with it, it's one that you really have to read in order. The personal / professional crossover is pretty complicated and there's so much history to McRae, Steel and the rest of the mad bunch that you're really going to have to know who is what, and how they all ended up in the middle of nowhere dodging Professional Standards, staring at some very odd home movies.