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Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

Birthdays for the Dead (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Stuart MacBride

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Title:Birthdays for the Dead
Authors:Stuart MacBride
Info:Harpercollins (2012), Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride (2012)



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This book is told in the first person of DC Ash Henderson of the Oldcastle CID. He is not a nice person. In fact he a very bad person and totally unlikeable. He is the sort of police officer who gives other police officers a bad name. He shouldn't even be a police officer and should really be behind bars.

But he is not alone. A lot of the police in the story are bad and should be behind bars or anywhere else except in uniform. They are all unlikeable.

This is the tail end of murder hunt that has been going on for eight years and has claimed the lives of two of the psychologist working the case and several police. The serial killer has been active all the time but is good and has been able to elude any kind of suspicion.

I do think this book is a bit drawn out and the writing style annoying. There are too many three way conversations, two people on the phone and a third person interrupting, two people talking and the radio interrupting and any number of combinations. It got so annoying as to be distracting.

Otherwise, this is a gritting and slightly enjoyable read. ( )
  Balthazar-Lawson | Aug 28, 2013 |
Very good, but not as good as the Logan McRae series. In this book SB starts a lot of scenes mid-way through and it can take a while to find out what is going on and what the background is. While it's not necessary to spell everything out, too much of this in a book becomes wearying. Several good twists near the end of the book. It would have had 4 stars apart from the mental fatigue. ( )
  SamO4 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Stuart MacBride is another author whose name I was familiar with, but hadn't sampled yet. Well, that's all changed. I just read Birthdays for the Dead and I am hooked.

MacBride grabs you by the throat in the opening prologue and only eases his grip long enough to let you take a breath and then the pressure is back on. Non-stop.

The day's mail includes a birthday card for Detective Constable Ash Henderson's daughter Rebecca - she would have been eighteen. Rebecca went missing days before her thirteenth birthday and it's assumed she ran away. But, Ash knows differently. She was a victim of The Birthday Boy - a sadistic killer who sends parents horrific photos of their dead daughters in a yearly birthday card. And Ash has just received his latest. The Oldcastle police have been chasing this maniac for over eight years and they may have just caught a break - a body has been found. Ash has withheld his cards and daughter's death from everyone as he doesn't want to be taken off the case. But, it's taken a toll - he's divorced, lives in a dive, is dangerously in debt to the local mob, eats painkillers constantly and is a little too quick with his fists. He's a train wreck of a man - and you can't help but hoping he comes out on top.

Whew. Where to start? It took me the first few chapters to catch on to MacBride's style - fast and furious, but also with some funny bits. I know, after what I just described, funny doesn't seem possible. But Ash is paired up with Alice, a very 'different' psychologist, who has her own set of issues. The dialogue between the two is quite witty. On the flip side, Mrs. Kerrigan scared the bejesus out of me. The action truly never stops, the tension never lets up and I was unable to predict where the plot was headed next. Or the ending.

Gentle readers be warned - Birthdays for the Dead is dark, gritty and violent. But, boy oh boy crime fans - it's oh so good! This was my first MacBride, but definitely won't be my last. Read an excerpt of Birthdays for the Dead. I was glad that this was a stand alone book. (But I would like to see more of this character) as MacBride also writes a crime series featuring Logan McRae that I want to start from the beginning. ( )
  Twink | Feb 20, 2013 |
The first few sentences are stunning!
The author manages to set the mood by putting himself in the head of one of the victims, aged of twelve, facing a serial killer who kills little girls the day of their 13th birthday.

Then, the reader is following an investigation lead by Ash, a detective whose daughter was also removed. Unfortunately in order to stay on the case, he never revealed the disappearance of his own daughter preferring to say she had fled. Because the killer is sadistic enough, he sends pictures of girls to their parents at all their birthdays in various degrees of injuries before their death.

Although the plot is really well built, I just got a little lost in the rambling life of detective Ash and on the many secondary characters who revolve around him. He owes money and some goons are after him, his ex-wife is a pain in the ass, his girlfriend is too young and his colleagues are various. Sometimes, it gave me a sense of confusion while I understand the desire to immerse the reader in the skin and in the life of the main character, still it's a lot to take.

Ash is also accompanied by a psychiatrist specializing in criminology, a profiler that need to drink to understand the killer. However, even if Dr. McDonald has a loony mind, she's very endearing and funny. Her strange behavior helps the reader to relax before being confronted to heavy atmosphere. Her duet with Ash also makes the detective more human.

A heavy, captivating and fun suspense story to follow, especially when the corpses of victims are surfacing and new victims appear to spice up the thriller. Sometimes a bit chaotic and confusing but the story is realistic, hard while being punctuated by dotted touch of madness.

The end is unexpected and confusing.
A great one!

http://newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr/2013/02/birthdays-for-dead-by-stuart-macbr... ( )
  luciefuentes | Feb 17, 2013 |
What a falling off was there ...
An utterly dreadful novel. I found it difficult to believe that the author of the Logan MacRae novels could lose his way so badly as to produce this rubbish. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Sep 13, 2012 |
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The gritty new standalone crime novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Shatter the Bones and Dark Blood 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.… (more)

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