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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 1 August 2012
I see that all the one star reviews are complaining about the opening chapter. I must admit that I initially decided not to get this book after reading the opening in the "Look Inside" feature.

Still, as it was free, and had a number of positive reviews, I decided to take a chance. In fact the opening chapter feels completely out of step with the rest of the book, which is a fairly decent detective novel. Some reviewers have complained of supernatural elements in the story, but they are written subtly enough that you can choose to treat them as real or imaginary, as suits. (John Locke does a similar thing in some of his excellent Donovan Creed and Emmett Love stories - although that's not to imply that James Oswald is in a class with John Locke!).

So, a decent read, which would have been better with a less graphic opening. Good enough that I'm going to take a chance and pay for the second book in the series.
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on 15 March 2012
Natural causes starts off with a shocking scene which grabs your attention. The story then develops into a most enjoyable crime novel, with a hint of horror/fantasy. The characters are interesting and the main character likeable. The story is set in Edinburgh with lots of wee references to the city. I for one am very much looking forward to the next in this series. I would certainly recommend this book - I was gripped from the beginning and couldn't put it down.
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on 10 September 2012
I tend to buy books by authors I know and trust to deliver a good read. I knew absolutely nothing about this author, but the book was free, the genre one I enjoy so what did I have to lose?
I'm very glad I did. The style owes much to Stuart Macbride whose quirky humour is always fun to read. It was always going to be difficult to write a detective novel on Rebus patch, but James Oswald has managed to bring a different view of Edinburgh to the reader through his Inspector Mclean creation. The main character is beautifully crafted. In fact characterisation throughout is excellent, and the many stranded plot is skillfully weaved together to a climax that delivers the goods. I did not find the opening gory, a little graphic perhaps but it did the job of pulling the reader in, and tied in perfectly with the plot climax.
Overall the book was thoroughly enjoyable, and of a standard that sent me looking for more from this author. I was therefore very surprised to discover that James Oswald was unpublished. I'm glad he had the faith in his writing to publish himself, and did not lose heart. I enjoyed this enough to look for other novels by this author, and be prepared to pay for them. This was a very good read. I look forward to the next Inspector Mclean story.
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on 8 April 2012
I was concerned at the first chapter that I would not be able to stay the course, it was somewhat disturbing to say the least. I am happy to have stuck with it and really enjoyed the development of the characters and the turns in the story. The body count is very high, the descriptions graphic but it kept me fully engrossed - a real page clicker!!
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on 18 May 2012
I want more! The charaters are very believeable and the writing had me hooked from page 1. A very gory start to the story but it takes off very quickly with plenty of twists and turns. Set in Edinburgh, which is a city i have yet to visit, James Oswald describes the city in a way that i could almost say i knew where he was. I hope that this is the start of a long series of books. More please Mr Oswald!
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on 6 October 2012
This book was recommended to me and as it was free I downloaded it. The opening is shocking. There's no getting away from that. Was it a ploy to draw the reader in? I don't know. What I do know is this is a well written crime novel and no more gory than other crime novels I've read.

I like James Oswalds style, it's fast paced and easy to read which keeps the plot moving along nicely. I never felt bogged down with unnecessary padding.

Inspector Mclean is an interesting and complex character and his collegues are well rounded and believable.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series and hope that Mr Oswald will give Inspector Mclean many more cases to solve.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 June 2012
This book was free. Incredible! I'd have paid for it and been more than happy. Comparisons with Rebus are inevitable. I'm a big Rankin fan and it can be difficult reading similar tales by a different author. But this stands the test. The narrative flows off the page. The settings are real, the people are credible and Inspector McLean doesn't have so much baggage that he's weighed down by his angst. But he has enough history to make him a compelling character. I wanted to know more about him and James Oswald doesn't do an immediate 'reveal' it's like an onion, it comes in layers. The plot is excellent. It's a complex and compelling mix of the ordinary with a twist of the supernatural. But it's all totally plausible, with richly detailed locations and some detailed descriptions of the crime scenes. There are numerous disparate strands to the plot as it snakes its way forward. Each could be a stand alone tale but it's all brought together. I really liked the way the ever so genteel Morningside set are portrayed; all their airs and graces hiding a dark underbelly. Without doubt, one of my best reads this year. Thanks Mr Oswald; a real belter.
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on 15 March 2012
Yes it is a crime novel and to a large extent it follows the formula ,and cleverness, of a Rebus novels but it certainly is darker and the opening chapter is clearly designed to shock. It has the dry wit and nice observations of a lot of other Scottish based authors kicking around currently, the book is very pleasing to read and is definitely a page turner. The unexpected aspect brings the novel into something you would expect from Neil Gaiman, and it works. In fact, it would be nice to have seen this aspect brought further into the book. It is clearly a "first in a series" novel and consequently time is taken introducing the characters with many aspects of the main characters previous life mentioned and then not taken anywhere. I'll be interested to see where the second novel goes and I personally will look forward to it.
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on 26 May 2012
I can understand the author selling this for free to get his name out there but still can't overcome the nagging feeling that I've cheated somebody out of some well earned wages in getting this great book for nothing.

Basically its a very good Edinburgh based crime story with some very overt supernatural strings in the background.

The chief protagonist Inspector McLean is a well drawn and likeable character who feels like a real person and does pretty much what you'd expect a real person to do in his circumstances. No stupid or illogical acts here just to drive the plot along.

There are hints to a significant back-story of which I'm sure we'll hear more in future books -- and James can charge for those if they are anywhere near as good as this one.

The nearest thing I can compare this to tonally, at a stretch , is the John Connolly "Charlie Parker" stories , so I'm safe in saying that, if you like those stories you'll like this.
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on 23 July 2013
This is a decent read even if Stuart McBride has already well trodden this ground..... but my real issue is with the ending. To say that it left me open mouthed is an understatement. I did have a bad feeling from about 100 pages in though that the 'reveal' would rely on something that was so illogical, so other-worldly as to cause me to guffaw out loud.... There are other reviews on here that are a little more open about the ending and you can read those if you want. My main complaint about this book, though, is aimed at the publishers.... I can understand that they may not want to say anything about the ending but surely they have a duty to provide a small hint to help steer the potential buyer? This is not a police procedural..... !!!! It is a genre cross-over and the other genre is eh...... not one that works for me and not mentioned on the back cover !
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