Sure Logan McRae's now an Acting Detective Inspector, in uniform. In the backend of nowhere, with a good team working with him, especially when you realise the number of cows they have to chase off roads. His girlfriend has improved a little, she's now in a care home, still uncommunicative, her nursing being paid for by McRae which is creating certain "problems" in his personal lifestyle. To make matters worse, his role in a high profile arrest causes a court case to collapse which brings the higher-ups down on his head and everything he does, says or has is questioned. Except for the inconvenient bits - like the pints of Lentil Soup he's living on just to keep the budget balanced.
Meanwhile in this sleepy little community, the discovery of a young girl's body brings an MIT to town, and with it DI Steel, because after all, where there's McRae, there will be a stumping, whinging, scratching, bitching and complaining Steel. Needless to say the murder will be (mis)handled by the MIT, McRae's team will balance all sorts of day to day policing with a bit of door kicking on the murder as well, they'll get out there after some local drug dealers, and generally deal with the idiots, the missing paedophiles, the weather, the bosses, the mud and the cows in a timely if not slightly grumpy manner.
It's the humour of these books that does it for me. That and the poignancy lurking round corners, ready to mug you when you least expect it. It's the lunacy of so many that McRae deals with, and even in his own head on occasions that works. It's the humanity of his concern for the mother of a missing little girl. It's like a night at the pub with your mad mates that you swear you're going to stop hanging around with because they always get you into shtoom. But then they get you out of it again. They are the team that you know is going to show up when the proverbial hits the oscillating device and the only defences available are tennis racquets and determination.
At the heart of all books in this series, there's always a busy, multi-actioned plot - just like you'd expect in any police station on any particular day. There's the high-profile case, the MIT and higher-ups strutting their stuff, and there's the day to day - the drug dealers, the addicts getting the shit kicked out of them, the people that McRae and his team just wish would get their act together. There's also a strong sense of camaraderie and co-operation in this team, as there is in most teams that McRae works with - with the token dopey bugger that everyone does the heavy-lifting for.
Relocating McRae to small-town Scotland gives this outing a slightly different feel, as does the idea that he's back in uniform, running a shift. Taking Steel with him is a classic example of a fish out of water scenario, but then just about everywhere Steel goes she "stands out". His ongoing, low-key care and love for his girlfriend remains such a highlight, as does his relationship with his biological child, Steel and her wife Susan's daughter. There's loyalty, care, concern and relationships between workmates, friends and colleagues, and that sense of responsibility to the victims that stands out in each book in this series. Alongside, sometimes, a bit of graphic violence and nastiness. Bit like life really.
There's so much in this series that, for this reader, is a highlight, and THE MISSING AND THE DEAD is right up there with the best of the lot of them.