#ThrowbackThursday – Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald – 4*s #bookreview @SirBenfro

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).

So this week I’m revisiting  Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald  – first reviewed in March 2015.

Prayer for the Dead

‘Are you ready to be reborn?’

The search for a missing journalist is called off as a body is found at the scene of a carefully staged murder.

In a sealed chamber, deep in the heart of Gilmerton Cove, a mysterious network of caves and passages sprawling beneath Edinburgh, the victim has undergone a macabre ritual of purification.

Inspector Tony McLean knew the dead man, and can’t shake off the suspicion that there is far more to this case than meets the eye. The baffling lack of forensics at the crime scene seems impossible. But it is not the only thing about this case that McLean will find beyond belief.

Teamed with the most unlikely and unwelcome of allies, he must track down a killer driven by the darkest compulsions, who will answer only to a higher power…

‘Are you ready for the mysteries to be revealed?’

My Review

Despite being No 5 in the series, this was my first encounter with Inspector McLean. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment as the references to previous incidents were for the most part fairly fleeting apart from the mention of a significant death which will no doubt be a fairly big spoiler when I go back and read the previous books.

The book involves McLean being called in to investigate a series of murders with each one displaying a common feature, a complete lack of forensics. While he begins to think these apparently unconnected killings might actually be connected, his superiors remain unconvinced.

I found the plot intriguing and I like Oswald’s writing style. I enjoyed the mix of police procedural with a hint of other worldliness that pervades in the background. Despite not telling us too much about McLean himself, there are hints and snippets dropped through-out the book that help to build a picture of a private, meticulous but likeable and caring man. McLean’s relationship with Rose and his defence of her really brought out his humanity. The inter office politics and relationships added a warmth and humour to balance the darkness of the investigations, and I enjoyed his relationships with “Grumpy Bob” and DC Stuart MacBride (no coincidence for readers of dark gritty but equally brilliant crime fiction set in Aberdeen).

The other thing I enjoyed about this book was the various seemingly unrelated sub plots that ran through the book that added extra interest. I loved the character of Rose, a trans gender, cat loving, medium. Not a character I was expecting to encounter, but then nothing in McLean’s world is always what it seems.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m now looking forward, to going back and catching up with the previous titles. If you like well written crime thrillers, love Edinburgh or are fans of Ian Rankin or Stuart MacBride then I think you’ll find James Oswald right up your street.


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