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on 20 October 2012
McLean is a Detective Inspector working in Edinburgh. Ten years ago, his girlfriend was killed by Anderson, a serial killer that he subsequently caught; the man has been in jail ever since. But now Anderson has died and it seems that someone is copying the methods he used; and Mclean is trying to uncover what is happening before anyone else loses their life.

This is a really good novel; a mixture of fantasy in a very realistic, grim and gritty storyline. The characters of the police officers show them to be human beings with frailties that they have to overcome. It shows the reality of modern police work; and there is a great deal of sympathy for the work they have to do in often very trying circumstances. The whole novel is very well put together and the pace is just right for the type of storyline.

If I were to be very picky, I would highlight one minor flaw; courts in the UK do not use gavels! This is something that is often seen in American dramas and many writers make the mistake of thinking this represents all legal proceedings. But overall, this story has a superb plot, some great writing, fully rounded character development and a couple of interesting twists to keep the reader engaged throughout. This book might even make the basis of a really good TV drama.

I would definitely look out for more by this author.
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on 6 May 2014
Having recently been on holiday I noted on the shelf this book, as I had already bought Natural causes. So I sat down and read it. Unfortunately this is simply a re working of the first novel and gives all the plot away from the first. In addition, the second girlfriend also gets 'compromised' but not quite as finally as the first one. ( Likely.......... I don't think so ) The unreasonable Chief inspector continues (I presume) to act like weasily uniformed idiot from Endeavour on the TV and the ongoing feud continues unabated and equally ridiculously and as such is totally unrealistic.
Yes there is an end, but we are left with unanswered questions all over the place and unexplained loose connections with the other crimes he is supposed to have solved at the same time.
Central to the plot is an alleged supernatural book and we learn later a ghost who helps Mc lean track it , I think !!
Detective fiction in my view has to be grounded in believeability and facts, and sadly this falls well short of anything vaguely resembling real life. Crime fiction it is not, by any stretch of generousity.
I will not be reading anymore and now, not even the first one !!
It gets 2 stars as it is well written but Mr Oswald really needs to get some decent story lines under his belt before he tries again.
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on 26 July 2012
James Oswald's first foray into crime fiction, Natural Causes, has become a bona fide word-of-mouth hit. With over 100,000 downloads in a couple of months it dominated the Kindle free chart and received rave reviews. That all of this was achieved with no advertising campaign and a minimal online presence is testament to the quality of Oswald's work. Now he has released his second Inspector McLean novel, The Book of Souls.

Set six months on from the events of Natural Causes it finds McLean gradually coming to terms with the murder of his fiancée, not moving on but accepting the hole in his life. When Anderson - the Christmas Killer, responsible for her death - is himself killed in prison by a fellow inmate, it seems as if the demons can finally be put to rest. However, within hours of the funeral a woman's body is found, left in a culvert, bearing all the hallmarks of an Anderson victim, and McLean is faced with the prospect of a copycat continuing the man's work.

Meanwhile decommissioned factories around Edinburgh are burning down. Ten and counting, each locked up tighter than Fort Knox and stripped of combustible materials. The fire officer is at a loss as to the cause, but they keep burning and people keep dying. Are the construction companies developing the sites responsible? Or is something more sinister at work? Witnesses give strange accounts, akin to spontaneous combustion, like the buildings wanted to die. But that's just dementia and alcohol talking, surely.

As more young women turn up dead the pressure is on McLean from all angles. His boss needs a result, his psychiatrist wants to see a catharsis, and an elderly monk with some very strange ideas about a missing text from Anderson's shop, The Book of Souls, wants MacLean to understand that he is dealing with an ancient evil which can consume anyone who reads it. Our hero brushes the old man's theory aside and tries to concentrate on the facts of the case; what other explanation could there be but a copycat drawing inspiration from a high profile serial killer? Then McLean starts seeing Anderson on the streets of Edinburgh and the book builds to a genuinely shocking denouement.

Successfully weaving supernatural elements into a police procedural is a tall order and Oswald gets the balance exactly right with The Book of Souls, giving little glimpses behind the veil, just enough to make sure you're never comfortable about the outcome. As a straight crime novel it works perfectly. We have an engaging central detective in McLean - damaged but determined to survive - and a team of well-defined officers around him and plenty of sparky internal politics. The pace is fierce, the plotting tight and there's not a slack word anywhere.

Put aside any reservations you may have about self-published authors, The Book of Souls is as good as, and in fact better than, much of what the major houses have on offer. I'll be amazed if James Oswald doesn't find himself being courted by them very soon.
22 comments65 of 74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Scottish murder/police procedural novels are my forte, but for some reason I could not get into this novel. I understand there was a previous novel that explains the Christmas Killer, though you do not need to read that novel to get into this one.

Detective Constable Tony McLean is a good cop, thorough and precise, picking up clues others would miss. Not much at paper work and his desk shows the result, but the team is short handed and you do what you can do. Returning from the funeral of Anderson, the so called Christmas Killer, who was murdered by a prisoner in the same prison, McLean receives a call that he us wanted at the scene if a new murder. Indeed this has all the similarities of the 'Christmas Killer'. Is there a new killer, was McLean wrong, just what is the explanation.

At the same time old buildings are going up in flames. The old caretaker of the recent building tasty went up in flames has a more supernatural explanation. Some buildings and lands have history, blood and sweat, and they don't want to be torn down for new expensive digs for the rich people. So, these buildings self destruct, burn at will is his explanation. McLean, not one to believe in such stuff leaves the explanation to an old man's meandering. But, were they?

This is a long book that could have been cut by half. Interweaving supernatural elements into a detective/murder cause is not my wont. Not for me. I understand there are things that occur that cannot be explained, but this type of novel is not for me. Well written, I like DC McLean and the other characters. However, this is not the reality of life.

Not Recommended a For Me. prisrob 07-06-14
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on 27 December 2014
This is a multi review of a guilty pleasure. Inspector McLean novels are very entertaining and full of character, first is Edinburgh real streets and fictional ones and the inhabitants of this city, the scottish element of language, CSI on steroids, and the police department the inspector loves and hates, all make for a real treat especially if you know this ancient metropolis old and new streets.
McLean is a very likeable character, obsessed and persecuted by his superiors and the power that be in the city, political and darker ones, he has no financial needs and is more dangerous and obsessed than most police characters, do not get too close to him death walks by his side with no mercy for any one.
This cases are not your everyday procedural faire but all tainted with a twist of the occult, it really should not work but it does and is a great deal of fun to jump into this world. you could read any of this stories on their own, as a matter of fact I sartet from the second book not knowing it was a series, it was just as much fun. Now I would not recommend to read this in a lonly large house, while the wind makes noise, you will begin by hearing voices and the creaking of the floor will increase as the clock approached midnight, apart from that a great read any other time.
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on 9 August 2012
Bought this after reading Natural Causes which I liked a lot. Possibly a bit better but it's just well written, I live in Edinburgh so I know a lot of the places. Good characters, good plot, storyline, twists in the tale (sic) etc. So, that'll be recommended then...!
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on 6 July 2012
It might have been the exotic foreign locations that kept me reading long after my eyes begged me to rest, but it was more likely the gripping storyline that pulled me along. I really wanted to know the outcome.

I often suspect nearly everyone of being the killer, until more evidence is revealed, but this time I struggled. In desperation I even considered Dagwood's constant meddling was for a more sinister reason than his sheer incompetence and jealousy. Lucky I wasn't a policeman then.

The characters are becoming real people for me and I feel I can see them as they go about their working lives. This can cause some disappointments if the series is ever televised, but so few are that it probably won't matter. What's for certain is that I'm really looking forward to episode three.
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on 24 July 2012
Bought this for Kindle after reading Natural Causes, another Inspector McLean crime/mystery/thriller. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I like McLean as a character and like the sort of supernatural element to the stories.
would make great TV or film. Thanks for a great read.Hopefully MrOswald will have time and inclination to write some more.
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on 16 September 2012
Having read the author's other Inspector McLean novel, Natural Causes, I was keen to see if this would be as enjoayable. It was.

The recurring themes do not become boring - you could scream in frustration at McLean's dealings with his superior - Charles Duguid. You want to lamp the guy for McLean!!! The themes of loss, culpability and guilt at any attempt to move forward are believable and well written. I enjoy reading books where, at the end, I am left thinking that I'd like to have a drink with the main characters. This book achieved that.

I hope that this helps you make a decision about buying the book. I'm glad I bought it.
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on 3 October 2012
This is the second book featuring Inspector MacRae and I was again I was lucky enough to get this as a free download but can truthfully say I would have been happy to have paid for it. As with the first book, this had me gripped reading faster than I would have thought possible because I simply could not put it down. Any fans of the Logan McRae books by Stuart MacBride will be recognise the namesake character in homage to the man himself! The stories are the same genre as MacBride's and are also set in Scotland, but quite why James Oswald hasn't been snapped up by a publisher I'll never know as both his first, and this second book featuring Inspector Maclean are superb and would surely be in the top ten bestsellers were they ever in print. I can highly recommend both of them! More please Mr Oswald!!
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