Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

I was recommended this on the strength of its descriptions of Aberdeen, and some rather fanciful depictions of the local paper aside, it paints a realistic sounding picture of the Granite City, a conurbation of pubs, churches and rain. Three things Aberdeen had in abundance.


DS Logan is back at work after a year off sick. His first case is the body of a missing child, found mutilated and badly decomposed. As the weather gets steadily worse the body count starts to rise. Grampian Police are overstretched and unable to make a breakthrough. Sometimes, it seems, when the going gets tough, the tough have to slip out to the pub after work:

Archibald Simpson’s had started life as a bank, the large banking floor transformed into the main bar. The ornate ceiling roses and high cornices were blurred above a fug of cigarette smoke, but the crowd were more interested in the cheap drinks than the architectural details.

Naturally, they’re there to talk shop:

They’d spent the first third of the evening talking in serious tones about the dead and missing children. The second third had been spent bitching about the Professional Standards investigation into the leaking of information to the press. Changing their name from Complaints and Discipline hadn’t made them any more popular. And the last third getting seriously drunk. One of the PCs – Logan couldn’t remember his name – lurched back to the table with another round of beers. The constable was entering that stage of drunkenness when everything seemed very funny, giggling as half a pint of lager went all over the table and down the leg of a bearded CID man.

Logan, with no intention of being the responsible adult that night, gets himself thoroughly pickled, a situation not exactly assisted by the painkillers he’s still taking; one four times a day, not to be taken with alcohol. The evening gets messy, the morning after is worse:

Six o’clock and the alarm’s insistent bleeping dragged Logan out of his bed and into a blistering hangover. He slumped at the side of the bed, holding his head in his hands, feeling the contents swell and throb. His stomach was gurgling and churning with lurching certainty. He was going to be sick. With a grunt he staggered to the bedroom door and out into the hall, making for the toilet.

If that’s not bad enough, he seems to have several coppers wandering around his flat in a state of hungover bewilderment:

“Mornin’, sir. Good party last night. Thanks for putting us up.” “Er... Don’t mention it.” Party?

Still, at least he gets a bacon sandwich for breakfast:

Logan sat back from the table, chewing on his bacon buttie, trying to remember what the hell happened last night. He couldn’t remember any party. Everything was pretty much a blank after the pub. And some of the stuff before that was none too clear either. But apparently he’d had a party and some of the search team had crashed at his place. That made sense. His flat was on Marischal Street: two minutes’ walk from Queen Street and Grampian Police Headquarters. But he still couldn’t remember anything after they were chucked out of the pub. The PC currently throwing up in his toilet – Steve – had stuck Queen’s ‘A Kinda Magic’ on the jukebox and promptly taken off all his clothes. It couldn’t be called a striptease. There was no teasing and too much staggering round like a drunken lunatic. The bar staff had kindly asked them to leave.

With this crack team on the case, the rest of the investigation will be a breeze.

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