The Gathering Dark by James Oswald #bookreview

I’ve been sailing through the last four books in the Inspector McLean series by James Oswald over the last couple of weeks. I’ve even started book nine straight after finishing book 8. I think The Gathering Dark is the darkest novel in the series yet. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.


A truck driver loses control in central Edinburgh, ploughing into a crowded bus stop and spilling his vehicle’s toxic load. The consequences are devastating.

DI Tony McLean witnesses the carnage. Taking control of the investigation, he soon realises there is much that is deeply amiss – and everyone involved seems to have something to hide.

But as McLean struggles to uncover who caused the tragedy, a greater crisis develops: the new Chief Superintendent’s son is missing, last seen in the area of the crash…


The Gathering Dark sees James Oswald return to the more supernatural elements that he started the series off with and I think it’s probably the most harrowing book in the series. I think the title is really apt for this book, as I was reading I really did get the sense that there was a storm gathering and that this didn’t bode well for the characters.

The novel opens with one of the worst accidents ever to happen on Scottish soil when a driver of a vehicle carrying toxic waste loses control and ploughs into pedestrians killing and severely injuring people. It is really made difficult for the police and the pathologist even to identify some of the victims. At first, there is speculation among the police force that it is a terrorist attack and politicians are soon breathing down the necks of the police, demanding answers. But as the investigation deepens, Tony McLean uncovers a sinister cover-up and what makes matters worse is that the chief inspector’s son may be one of the casualties leading to even more mounting pressure.

Although at first it may seem that what happened is just a tragic accident, and this is what you may at first believe, but then you would be thinking wrong. As I have come to expect from James Oswald’s books, there is always more to a crime or an event taking place than first meets the eye and Tony McLean is the best man to delve into the heart of the mystery. He is always determined to see a case through to the very end, regardless of the consequences to himself.

I was pleased to see the return of Madame Rose, who has been absent from the last two books in the series, although it did feel as though Tony was a little bit more prickly with her than usual. Tony hasn’t seen her since the last time she descended on him when her home appeared to be targeted by arsonists. She is one of my favourite characters from this series and part of what makes these books unique. Perhaps Tony is beginning to feel the stress of his home life a little more, and I think Madame Rose can sense this. He has always seemed to be very mellow in the past, but there just seemed to be a slight change in his character in this book in the series. Perhaps it’s because he can also sense the oncoming storm as well. I’m not sure now how things are going to pan out for him in future books.

There is a real underlying sense of menace that runs throughout this book. We also hear from a mystery voice. They appear to be the key to unlocking the secrets of what happened the day the vehicle crashed into pedestrians. But we don’t find out more about this individual until much later, and some harrowing truths are unearthed. I wanted to know how this person was going to be linked to the incident which had taken place, and the truth is far more unnerving than you might think. It’s clear that they have suffered in the past, and they are intent on exacting their revenge. I kept thinking that this was going to be someone who wasn’t going to go away quietly.

Aside from the first two books in this series, I think this has to be James Oswald’s darkest book in the series to date. The supernatural elements are really chilling, and I kept turning the pages as the novel reached its climax. The Gathering Dark is harrowing, extremely well written and absolutely addictive. You really don’t want to miss out on this series!

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 28th June 2018

Print length: 464 pages

The Gathering Dark is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones