Birthdays for the Dead

Birthdays for the Dead

3.5 28
by Stuart MacBride

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The Number One bestselling crime thriller from the award-winning Stuart MacBride. A bloody, brilliant and brutal story of murder, kidnap and revenge.Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid


The Number One bestselling crime thriller from the award-winning Stuart MacBride. A bloody, brilliant and brutal story of murder, kidnap and revenge.Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.The tabloids call him ‘The Birthday Boy’. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his homemade cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards – they all think she’s just run away from home – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cop’s horrifying personal connection with a serial killer puts a chilling spin on MacBride’s solid stand-alone. Det. Constable Ash Henderson, of Oldcastle, Scotland, is on the police team investigating “the Birthday Boy,” who for the last 12 years has abducted 12-year-old girls. Each year on their birthdays, the psychopath sends their parents Polaroids of them being tortured to death. Ash’s daughter, Rebecca, was taken five years before, but to stay on the case he has hidden this fact, a secret that drives him into gambling debts with the local mob and away from his ex-wife, Michelle, and his other daughter, Katie, who both blame Rebecca for running away. Teamed with quirky forensic psychologist Alice McDonald, Ash is shaken after some of the bodies are found, just as another girl disappears. MacBride delves into revenge and grief while adding a strong emotional wallop and avoiding the clichés of the serial killer genre. Agent: Philip Patterson, Marjacq Scripts. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Birthdays for the Dead:‘MacBride is a damned fine writer – no one does dark and gritty like him’ Peter James‘The master of murderous mayhem is back to his best with a belter of a book … a page-turner’ The SunPraise for Stuart MacBride:‘Fierce, unflinching and shot through with the blackest of humour; this is crime fiction of the highest order’ Mark Billingham‘Ferocious and funny, this is Tartan Noir at its best’ Val McDermid‘Stuart MacBride’s thrillers just keep getting better’ Express
Library Journal
For the past 12 years girls have been disappearing on the eves of their 13th birthdays. Most are considered runaways until a year later when their parents receive a homemade birthday card featuring a photo of their daughters being tortured. A card arrives each year thereafter, showing progressively worse torture until a final picture shows a dead girl. When the victims' bodies are found in a park in Oldcastle, psychologist Alice Macdonald is brought in to create a profile of the killer. DC Ash Henderson is assigned to work with her, but he withholds key information from her despite his desperation to find the killer for very personal reasons of his own. VERDICT Scottish crime novelist MacBride's (Cold Granite; Flesh House) latest thriller is pure MacBride: well written, entertaining, dark, and violent. It's sure to appeal to fans of gritty Scottish thrillers by Denise Mina and Ian Rankin.—Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnepeg
Kirkus Reviews
Vengeance compels a Scottish detective to find a brutal serial killer and to protect a dark secret. Constable Ash Henderson has received another anonymous birthday card addressed to his daughter Rebecca, who went missing five years ago shortly before her 13th birthday. Inside is a photo of his Rebecca, bound and gagged. Several other families receive the same annual torture, apparently sent by a killer who's still at large. Ash had spread the myth, even among police colleagues, that Rebecca ran away from home. Though the cards have continued to arrive on schedule, the killer the media has dubbed "The Birthday Boy" has not been active lately. So, when someone stumbles upon the remains of a young woman during a sewer repair, Henderson's heart beats a little faster. Unfortunately, he is teamed with the chirpy and optimistic Dr. Alice McDonald, whose voice and manner affect him like the screech of chalk on a blackboard. After she convinces the family of the unearthed victim to go public, reinvigorating the case, pressure mounts on Henderson as police search for other bodies in the same location. More victims mean more families to interview in the twisty investigation. Could there be a worse time for a perv named Ethan Baxter to resurface and harass Henderson's surviving daughter, Katie? Stopping him seems the only thing Henderson and ex-wife Michelle can agree on. Henderson's gritty first-person perspective adds authority and tension to a complex police procedural in which MacBride (Dark Blood, 2011, etc.) captures both the tumult and the telling details of a busy squad room.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Stuart MacBride is the No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series and the Ash Henderson series.

His novels have won him the CWA Dagger in the Library, the Barry Award for Best Debut Novel, and Best Breakthrough Author at the ITV3 Crime Thriller awards. In 2012 Stuart was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Hall of Fame.

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Birthdays for the Dead 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 28 reviews.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
In his new standalone mystery/thriller, the author introduces DC Ash Henderson of the Oldcastle Police, formerly DI Ash Henderson – he was busted down to Constable following a particularly horrific phase of an investigation into murders committed by a killer dubbed by the tabloids the “Birthday Boy,” an investigation now eight years old. The victims have all been young girls, abducted within a few days of their thirteenth birthday, their parents tormented with photos mailed to them every year on the ensuing birthdays, each one increasingly grotesque in its images of torture, mutilation and, finally, death. What no one else knows – not the detectives with whom he works, not even his wife – is that Henderson’s daughter, Rebecca, who went missing five years before, is another of those victims. The rest of the world believes that she has simply gone missing; Ash has hidden the truth so that he can continue to hunt for the killer, in the quite-correct belief that he would otherwise be pulled off the case, placed on compassionate leave and given grief counseling. Henderson is a fascinating protagonist, 45 years old, with an ex-wife and twelve-year-old daughter and now living in a dilapidated council estate, he is not one to shy away from exacting revenge, or justice, when called for. But the most fascinating of the characters created by Mr. MacBride for this novel is Dr. Alice McDonald, brilliant forensic psychologist, somewhat mentally unstable, self-described as “delightfully quirky” - - a more objective viewpoint might include OCD and perhaps agoraphobia. The book takes place over a period of ten excruciating days, as the victim list mounts, and bodies are suddenly found, and the hunt for the Birthday Boy has suddenly become more intense, if possible. With canny plotting, and a stunning ending, this is a book which will stay with you long after the cover is closed. I made the mistake of coming within 100 pages of finishing it late one night, something I definitely do NOT recommend – unlike the novel itself, which I most definitely do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a lot of fun to read a novel from this genre that is written by a writer who is not from the United States. Why? Because the endings are always just a little darker than an American reader would expect, which keeps you on your toes. The ending to this one is not cheery, and feels more authentic in many ways, but a bit of a stretch in others. The identity of the Birthday Boy was a bit of a reach for me, but it didn't matter because the storyline swirling around it was much more interesting and heartbreaking.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Stuart MacBride is another author whose name I was familiar with, but hadn't sampled yet. Well, that's all changed. I just read Birthdays for the Dead and I am hooked. MacBride grabs you by the throat in the opening prologue and only eases his grip long enough to let you take a breath and then the pressure is back on. Non-stop. The day's mail includes a birthday card for Detective Constable Ash Henderson's daughter Rebecca - she would have been eighteen. Rebecca went missing days before her thirteenth birthday and it's assumed she ran away. But, Ash knows differently. She was a victim of The Birthday Boy - a sadistic killer who sends parents horrific photos of their dead daughters in a yearly birthday card. And Ash has just received his latest. The Oldcastle police have been chasing this maniac for over eight years and they may have just caught a break - a body has been found. Ash has withheld his cards and daughter's death from everyone as he doesn't want to be taken off the case. But, it's taken a toll - he's divorced, lives in a dive, is dangerously in debt to the local mob, eats painkillers constantly and is a little too quick with his fists. He's a train wreck of a man - and you can't help but hoping he comes out on top. Whew. Where to start? It took me the first few chapters to catch on to MacBride's style - fast and furious, but also with some funny bits. I know, after what I just described, funny doesn't seem possible. But Ash is paired up with Alice, a very 'different' psychologist, who has her own set of issues. The dialogue between the two is quite witty. On the flip side, Mrs. Kerrigan scared the bejesus out of me. The action truly never stops, the tension never lets up and I was unable to predict where the plot was headed next. Or the ending. Gentle readers be warned - Birthdays for the Dead is dark, gritty and violent. But, boy oh boy crime fans - it's oh so good! This was my first MacBride, but definitely won't be my last. Read an excerpt of Birthdays for the Dead. I was glad that this was a stand alone book. (But I would like to see more of this character) as MacBride also writes a crime series featuring Logan McRae that I want to start from the beginning.
Anonymous 12 months ago
This was a pretty good read, but I hated the ending. I think I'll stick with the Logan McRae novels from now on. Barnes and Noble, why can't you do something about the moronic children who insist on using book reviews as chat rooms? I don't see this kind of crap on other retail sites. If they can police it, why can't you? You can't even take the number of stars for any book as being even reasonably accurate, defeating the purpose of having a ratings system at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The inspector certainly has his own problems throughout the story but his determination to find the killer is commendable. Not sure I liked the outcome for him but it keeps you turning the pages, that is for sure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unsympathetic main character with no redeeming qualities. Just a bunch of bad people doing bad things to each other. Ugh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't understand how the Logan McRae series can be so good (well most of 'em, some of them anyway) and this be so bad. It didn't really have any redeeming qualities at all. There were far too many bit players to keep up with so I had to use the "find" feature a lot. It was pretty boring and the only character I found the least bit likeable was Henry Forrester and his dog (mostly the dog). I just didn't like it at all and I had such high hopes. There is a lot of violence which usually upsets me but in this book a lot of 'em had it comin' so it was hard to feel too bad for them. I was bored for much of the book and annoyed at the rest, just a complete miss all the way around.
Anonymous 19 days ago
Siggy test
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
Good read
REID324 More than 1 year ago
If one can bypass the Brit speak, this is a very exciting and enjoyable book. I like it very much, the descriptions are a marvel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually cannot believe I hung in there and finished this book. Very disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do love his thrillers. You wont want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would not recomend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not usually my genre but i really liked this. The pacing is a little schizo and i had to just ignore how crazy the dc is, but the story is good and the ending unsatsifying and unusual... which i really enjoyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a very interesting premise, but the author keeps straying to write about topics that have no bearing on the many times the main character's associates get hung over-and he often dwells for several pages on boring descriptions of their physical symptoms. Also, there are L-O-N-G detailed descriptions of how many times & how he is beat up...much gratuitous violence. BTW, the detective is no slouch at dishing out a sadistic beating. I skipped thru a lot of this. Of course, his female associates are in both love with him, and he is a sadly misunderstood ex-husband. If he had a short story, then write a short story, stop padding the narrative with violence and male fantasies!
Bernie48 More than 1 year ago
This book is as great as Stuarts others. Just a reminder his books are not for someone with a weak stomach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want go be depressed for days, buy this book.
grizzlysherry More than 1 year ago
Unlike this author's other books, this book is really bad. Although the story moves, the quirky characters go absolutely no where. I was very disappointed & am now rethinking reading other stories