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4.4 out of 5 stars39
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on 28 June 2013
Michael J Malone's first novel in what I hope will be a long series was very good; this, the second, is even better. Its structure is more adventurous, alternating two closely connected narrative threads, one in the first, the other in the third person. There's a constant tension in both of them. They share the goal of identifying someone who targets young boys and stopping them before it's too late, but each has other tensions specific to its characters. In one, the parents live their own nightmares as they feel responsible for the harm that has been or might be done to their sons and the damage they may do to one another, but in the other, D.I. McBain is still being haunted by his own terrors which the resolution of the plot in the first book, 'Blood Tears', failed to banish.

The whole novel is saturated with guilt and, paradoxically, those pursuing the obviously `guilty' perpetrator of the crimes against wee boys, while unable to shed their own feelings of responsibility for events, are able to see that the perpetrator's motives may perhaps be explicable. The reader, too, knows right from wrong and yet is drawn into sharing the characters' feelings of moral ambiguity.

McBain himself, while relating his version of events in relatively simple, direct terms, betrays the complexity of his character and is still the wilfully perverse copper we met in book one. He's forever questioning his own notions of love, fidelity, responsibility, and his relationships with others are precarious.

So there's guilt, pain and darkness everywhere and they threaten to overwhelm innocence. And yet it's a book full of humour. McBain's one-liners are priceless (and those of his colleagues often match them). And then there's his way with metaphor and, yes, poetic turns of phrase which complement his mastery of Glasgow street talk. It all makes him the fascinating, attractive core of a book that asks lots of questions, answers the ones we need to be answered, but still leaves us with plenty to think about. It's a great, highly enjoyable read.
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on 25 June 2013
It is seldom that writers of gritty novels inject humour into their stories. Not this author. This gripping novel starts with a practical joke that is certain to make the reader laugh out loud. The whole book is peppered with clever and amusing metaphors. But be in no doubt this is a very dark book. Since crime is such a popular genre at the moment is must be a challenge for writers to come up with an unusual twist. Michael J Malone has succeeded with this, his second thriller. Not a comfortable read, especially disturbing, I would think, to a woman, but an extremely well constructed story which fairly rips along leaving the reader breathless. The flashes of humour were a relief from the unfolding horror.
A woman infiltrates vulnerable families, causes mayhem and destruction and then vanishes. Who is she? How could any female be so evil? This book reveals how scarily possible such a situation could occur.
A fascinating read with all the ingredients - violence, horror, and a great deal of sex!
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on 2 October 2015
I feel like that I have just stepped off a rollercoaster! What a ride! A Taste for Malice takes us into the twisted mind of the bogeywoman who dedicates her life to the psychological and physical abuse of young boys and DI McBain's dogged determination to catch her (despite the fact that he has been confined to desk duty following his last case).
Once again I was drawn into the story from the very first page, the familiar streets of Glasgow and my childhood holiday destination of Ayrshire greeting me like old friends. DI McBain is a believable Glasgow policeman, choice language and wandering eyes - yet underneath is a deeply flawed and damaged man still coming to terms with events of his past. It's hard not to connect with him.
Absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it highly enough - roll on the next instalment in the series. Well deserved five stars!
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I wasn't too enamoured with Blood Tears, the previous book in the series but I feel Mr Malone has hit his stride with A Taste For Malice which has all the prerequisites of a good crime novel - damaged lead character, good supporting cast, despicable baddies and a plot with enough twists to keep you turning the pages. What I particularly like about Mr Malone's writing is his characterisation as they all seem lifelike and have a nice West Coast of Scotland sense of humour. It makes me feel at home, especially as Troon gets a scene or two (normally if it's not golf nobody's interested!). I think this is a good read and worth your time.
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on 28 August 2013
Di McBain is back, and in the dog house. There is unfinished and very personal business still lurking from his first outing in `Blood Tears'. Having said that, the current story is more than capable of holding its own as a standalone novel, but anyone who hasn't read the first book `Blood Tears' would miss the delight of an introduction to a cast of well written characters.
One of the great appeals of the McBain books, for me, is the relationships he has with what are effectively his two sidekicks, DC Alessandra Rossi and DS Daryl Drain, Kenny, McBain's `favourite career criminal', and Maggie, his Jiminy Cricket, who gives a good as she get in the banter stakes. These are people I want to invest time in and get to know better, because they really put the heart into the story.
But the witty repartee merely makes the crime that is about to be committed all the more intense, as the story alternates its way between the policing aspects of the story, McBain's angst, and the insidious insinuation of the psychopath into their victim family's life. For anyone wanting a book they can't put down, there's a real sense wanting to strap yourself in for the read until it reaches its dramatic conclusion.
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on 3 July 2013
Sometimes the second novel can be tricky. Your first one has done well, people like it, following up can be hard. Malone's pulled it off, though, for this novel works well. This follow-up to last year's Blood Tears is very good indeed. And there's not one dead body! But there are lots of secrets. It seems most people in this thriller are keeping something hidden. DI Ray McBain is haunted by events from the first novel, and keeping something back from his bosses. He's also benched after being injured and stepping over the line. But you can't keep a good man down and soon he's following up a curious little tale of .... well, let's just say that it involves someone decidedly unhinged doing very creepy things with families. It's another dark tale leavened with humour - I laughed out loud at least once. That sounds like damning with faint praise but it's not meant to be. Humour is important and Malone delivers a nice line that is often lacking in crime novels. He also knows where to stop, which is important. There were also surprises, twists and some neat characterisation in what is a wholly satisfying entry in this series.
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on 4 August 2013
Having read Blood & Tears I was anticipating another great read with A Taste of Malice and downloaded it to read on holiday. Unfortunately it only lasted two days as I just couldn't put it down. Great characterisation, fast paced and a brilliantly unique storyline. The scene where all of the main characters converge was pure genius and totally unexpected. Looking forward to the next one.
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on 18 October 2013
An absorbing read, neatly crafted with interwoven story lines, clever twists and supplemented by a liberal sprinkling of Scottish humour. The characters are interesting enough for you to want to know what happens next. I note this is second in a series and it doesn't suffer from not reading the opener first- although it's now on my 'to read' list.
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on 1 July 2013
Michael J. Malone's second published novel is a superior book in every way, even to such a well constructed and written debut as Blood Tears. The pacing, character arc's and story development are wonderful, with the protagonist McBain feeling like a family member as a result of Malone's skilful first person narrative. The story, if possible, is more gripping, darker and chilling than Blood Tears, containing more of a psychological element to it. The tension is built beautifully and had me reading through my fingers at times such was its' effect. Conversely however, it was superbly funny and had me laughing out loud many times with a running gag that could leave a bad taste in the mouth! The parallel storyline was handled brilliantly, but perhaps Malone's greatest gift is in relating the human condition in all its' beauty and perversity.

A truly brilliant and thoroughly recommended read and thankfully set up for McBain 3.
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on 31 August 2013
I love a good crime story, and this didn't disappoint me. It really keeps you guessing right up to the end. Just when you think that everything has fallen into place and the villain is going to get their come-uppance the story goes in yet another direction and really keeps you on your toes. I wondered if I might have missed something by not reading the first book in the series, but it really didn't matter in the end. The fact that the actual victims were children did make me squirm quite a bit, but you get so engrossed with the other characters lifestories that you get carried along on a tidal wave. I don't altogether like reviews that virtually tell you the whole story even before you have a chance to read it, so will leave my review there. I would just say read it and enjoy, just be prepared to be unable to put it down until the last page. I loved this book, and I think I fell a little bit in love with D..I. McBain
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