Cold as the Grave by James Oswald #bookreview

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.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 7th February 2019

Print length: 432 pages

Cold as the Grave is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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

Written in Bones by James Oswald #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thought on the seventh book in the Inspector McLean series by James Oswald, Written in Bones.

Written in Bones: Inspector McLean 7 by [Oswald, James]


When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.

And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city…


After I finished reading the previous book in the series, I was eager to pick up the seventh book as soon as possible due to the uncertain predicament Tony McLean had suddenly found himself in. I pretty much started reading this one straight away. The last three books in this series I’ve devoured within three days. James Oswald writes really addictive books; once you start reading one, you need to make sure that you don’t have any plans for the rest of the day.

After a period of extended leave, and with the cold case unit he was assigned to in tatters, Tony is back on the force. And the first case he is assigned to after a few weeks absence is a perplexing one when the body of a man is discovered impaled at the top of a tree. And to top things off the witness who found the body, a young boy, claims it resembled a dragon when it fell out of the sky. Now even though Tony’s belief system in the supernatural has been shaken over the course of this series, he is fairly certain that Police Scotland are not going to be tracking down mythical beasts any time soon. Once the victim is identified, it raises certain questions and puts Tony in an uncomfortable situation as suspicions of corruption begin to appear.

I think it’s fair to say that Tony hasn’t been the favourite of certain individuals within the police force and in this book, he does rock that boat a little bit more. I knew that Tony wasn’t going to let these claims be forgotten about, but I wondered what this would do for his career. Tony is financially well off, and some do seem to think that it wouldn’t bother him if he lost his job. But McLean isn’t someone who would prefer to sit at home with nothing to do. He enjoys the job he does, and he doesn’t want to give it up.

James Oswald gets the story going right from the moment when the body is found. What I really like about his books, is that nothing is ever quite as it seems, and there is always something strange attached to the cases that Tony McLean is investigating. I think this something he has grown to expect since the first book in the series. There are always many different strands to the investigations that keep up the suspense and the intrigue. James Oswald always manages to weave the plot together in a satisfactory way. I wanted to find out who the man they found in the tree was and how he had got there in the first place.

I thought that the ending of the last book was a bit of a bombshell moment for McLean, but it was nothing compared to the predicament he finds himself in now. Times for Tony McLean are certainly changing. I’m looking forward to catching up with him in the next book, and I’m really enjoying getting back into this series. Written in Bones is really enjoyable.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 23rd February 2017

Print length: 410 pages

Written in Bones is available to buy: 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones