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Posted June 28, 2012
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.
10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2013
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.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2013
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.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2013
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.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2013
Unsympathetic main character with no redeeming qualities. Just a bunch of bad people doing bad things to each other. Ugh.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2015
Posted December 24, 2014
Posted December 24, 2014
Posted December 12, 2014
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2014
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Posted December 26, 2013
Posted December 26, 2013
Posted December 13, 2013
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2013
Posted April 18, 2013
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
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2013
This book has a very interesting premise, but the author keeps straying to write about topics that have no bearing on the plot...how 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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2013
Posted January 13, 2012
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Posted January 22, 2014
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