‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday: ‘Birthdays for the dead’ by Stuart MacBride


Here I am! Missed me? Go on, admit it…

So, guess what day it is?

Yup, you’re absolutely correct. It’s the day where we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A day when the harbour gates are closed to the flotilla of steaming piles of dung that scar the waves of the world-wide web and we have a brief respite from everything brown.

‘cos today folks, we are ‘Banning the Bullshit’. On a Sunday.

Now, you know me guys. I tell it like it is, right?

There’s no dressing it up and I don’t read through pink-tinted shades. You can always count on me to give you it in your face, full on right hook, max power.

So, these next words: don’t take them lightly.

I effing LOVED this book!

Today’s sacrificial scribe is Stuart MacBride and his latest book, ‘Birthdays for the Dead.

Now, of course, I’ve known of this guy for quite some time. He has been up there in the thriller and crime charts for the last 5 or 6 years and I have seen his covers in amongst the top tens that we have appeared in ourselves, but I (ashamedly) admit to have not read any of his stuff…until now.

I had a major Kindle-krisis (see what I did there? ;-)) on holiday and mine all but exploded thanks to my partner squishing it underfoot on the bathroom floor (I mean, where else was I supposed to leave it whilst getting out? Huh?) so I had to revert to borrowing my Mum’s for something to read. After trawling through her reading list (between slightly parted fingers) and shaking my head at titles that made my stomach heave just thinking about what I might find in their pages, I stumbled upon one that I had lent my mum and she had not read.

Let’s face it, I’m not a rom-com kinda gal. Mr MacBride won hands down.

The cover was already emblazoned on my brain as I had seen it so many times before, and it’s a great cover, so when the blurb beckoned to me with a gnarled, slightly tobacco-stained finger, I decided to give it a go:

The Number One bestselling crime thriller from the award-winning Stuart MacBride. A bloody, brilliant and brutal story of murder, kidnap and revenge.

Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret…

Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front — Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.

The tabloids call him ‘The Birthday Boy’. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his homemade cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.

But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards — they all think she’s just run away from home — because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves…

To be honest, I was sold at the line: A bloody, brilliant and brutal story of murder, kidnap and revenge. Now you’re talking! More my style.

I fell a little bit in love with Ash Henderson instantly. The guy is dark, disturbed, brutal-yet-soft and has a wit as sharp as my eye for bullshit. The narrative description of the Scottish towns in the book is so brilliantly written, that I felt I had visited every front door and every victims’ family personally and felt their Tennent-fuelled fury as Ash delivered the bad news.

The book has some wonderfully painted characters and is so tightly paced that there was steam coming outta my Kindle (well, my Ma’s) as I couldn’t wait to turn the pages.

Okay, it’s harsh in some places and won’t be for everyone. There’s a lot of violence and some in-your-face description of murder scenes, but hey, it’s a murder-mystery-crime-thriller, so what can you expect.

I just love the voice this guy has. Some of his description left me laughing out loud and secretly seething that I hadn’t written it myself.

I came straight home and downloaded every one of his Logan Macrae series and I can’t wait to read them. It’s been a long time since I have felt like that about a writer, so hats off to the Master of Tartan Noir (Mark Billingham’s words, not mine. Although I wholeheartedly agree). Everyone knows, I am not easily pleased!

So, if you like your good old, police procedurals with a heavy dose of dark humour and believable, slightly tortured characters, then look no further than this book.

A rare 5 whisky-soaked, blood-spattered stars from me for ‘Birthdays for the Dead’. What more do you need to know?

Until next time folks…

Stay free from the slippy stuff.



Writer, dreamer, pantser.

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Posted in books, writing
One comment on “‘Banning the Bullshit’ Sunday: ‘Birthdays for the dead’ by Stuart MacBride
  1. […] A few weeks ago I took a look at ‘Birthdays for the dead’. You can pop back over and see what I thought here. […]

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