I’ve at last caught up on the books I’ve missed out on in James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series and I don’t think I’ve ever read a series of books this fast. After finishing book nine, Cold as the Grave a few days ago, I’ve nearly finished the tenth book in the series in time for my stop on the blog tour at the end of this week. If you’re not yet reading these books then you really need to be!
Her mummified body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. A room which feels as cold as the grave.
As a rowdy demonstration makes its slow and vocal way along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Detective Chief Inspector Tony McLean’s team are on stand-by for any trouble. The newly promoted McLean is distracted, inexplicably drawn to a dead-end mews street… and a door, slightly ajar, which leads to this poor girl’s final resting place.
But how long has she been there, in her sleep of death? The answers are far from what McLean or anyone else could expect. The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case…
Cold as the Grave sees Tony McLean investigating the dark and horrific industry of human trafficking, and the horrors refugees face as they flee war-torn countries, in the hope of a better future. It is a topic which has been widely covered in the news very recently. I think this is perhaps one of the most complex cases Tony has had to investigate. Once again, James Oswald draws nicely on the supernatural elements, which gives this book a slight edginess to it. As Tony McLean becomes more and more wrapped up in the ideas that many wouldn’t give the time a day, it made me wonder just what was going on here. As I have come to expect from these books, nothing is ever as it seems.
During a protest in Edinburgh, Tony accidentally stumbles across the mummified remains of a young girl. The unsettling discovery prompts a series of questions, how long has she been there? Is this a case of foul play or did the young girl become the victim of a tragic accident after somehow becoming trapped? After the discovery of the girl, I began to get a sense of just how harrowing the plot was going to be.
Recently Tony has reluctantly been promoted to Detective Chief Inspector. Now many may welcome promotion, but Tony much prefers to be out in the field, speaking to witnesses and chasing down leads. You can really see just how much he hates the idea of being stuck in an office all day and going over mounds of paperwork. This causes a lot of distress for his immediate superiors, who have to try and locate him every time they need to talk to him, and his boss frequently tells him this. This doesn’t do much to change Tony’s character; he is very much set in his ways.
There is a much more sombre feeling in this novel. A harrowing end to the previous book in the series has left Tony and his girlfriend Emma distraught. You can see just how far they have drifted apart from each other. It has made me wonder if things are ever going to be the same for them again, and I really do hope that they do try and work things out.
The case that Tony is investigating is particularly dark. Out of all the Tony McLean novels that I’ve read, and I’ve read them all, I think Cold as the Grave does have the darkest tone. I did feel as well that it was slower paced in the middle section of the book, but James Oswald always manages to keep the tension turning up a notch. What makes the supernatural elements in these books work so well is that there always seems to be logic to them. It always provides a really creepy and chilling atmosphere that makes for intense reading.
This is another excellent addition to one of my favourite crime series. If you’re a fan of crime novels, particularly with a supernatural touch, then you really are missing out if you haven’t started these books yet.
Publication date: 7th February 2019
Print length: 432 pages
Cold as the Grave is available to buy: