BLIND EYE - Stuart MacBride
DI Steele deserves her own fan club. It would have to be a club where swearing, drinking, smoking and fiddling with your bra strap were perfectly acceptable behaviours of course. You've also got a ready made slogan as fans of the wonderful Logan McRae series from Scottish author Stuart MacBride will be aware.
BLIND EYE is the 5th book in this funny, gruesome, funny, ferocious, unflinching, funny series featuring DS Logan McRae and a passing parade of DIs and DCIs. DI Steele makes a very high profile return in BLIND EYE, in fact she's in danger of completely stealing the show, although McRae also has to deal with the considerably more prickly DCI Finnie as well.
In true MacBride style, not only are the characterisations vivid, unflinching and frequently decidedly unflattering, the subject matter of this book is confrontational. Somebody is preying on Aberdeen's Polish community - not killing, but dreadfully maiming a series of men. Gouging out their eyes and burning the sockets, the crime seems inexplicably cruel and utterly and totally ruthless. The victim's are understandably too scared to talk, and the only witness - a paedophile on the run - doesn't exactly inspire anybody's hope in being able to sort this.
As the investigation grinds on, and the maiming take a particularly startling turn, McRae finds himself having to deal with Finnie's increasing sarcasm and what seems like antagonism, as well as Steele's glorious excess - which now includes a rather personal component, making McRae increasingly squeamish.
Undoubtedly the subject matter that MacBride touches on in all his books is going to be unpleasant reading for some people. He balances that beautifully with humour - sometimes gallows style, frequently black and downright hilarious in other places. He writes gruesome but highly realistic plots which don't shilly shally around with your sensibilities. You'll often come out of one of these books feeling a little like you've been slapped around the head and shoulders with something quite quite icky. MacBride also writes fantastic police characters - McRae's increasing dithering around nicely balanced by the iron wit and will of DI Steele, both of them up against the sarcasm and terseness of Finnie. Settling in with these characters is rapidly becoming more and more like a visit with favourite friends. Sure you've heard the stories before. Sure you've seen them when they have a few too many before. Who cares - good mates are extremely hard to find.
Someone's preying on Aberdeen's growing Polish population. The pattern is always the same: men abandoned on building sites, barely alive, their eyes gouged out and the sockets burned. And the threatening letters arriving at Force Headquarters make it clear there's more to come.