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Natural Causes by James Oswald

Natural Causes (2012)

by James Oswald

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2572065,935 (3.73)49

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Detective Inspector Anthony "Tony" McLean is investigating the discovery of a dead girl that has been walled up in a basement of an old estate. As if that's not bad enough Tony also discovers that her internal organs have been removed and placed in six preserving jars around her. The evidence implies that it must have been at last 60 years ago that someone did this, but why? Could this murder be a sacrifice of some kind? It's up to Tony to figure it out. But, this is a cold case, the Edinburgh police have a bigger problem with the murders of prominent city elders. The problem is that the killers commit suicide right after the murder. Which is odd the first time, but then it happens again...and again...

I read The Damage Done, the latest book in the Inspector McLean series a while back and I was a bit confused over the book story. However, after the "interesting" ending did I check up the book and that confirmed my suspicion that this series has a paranormal angle to the stories. And, suddenly the story in The Damage Done made much more sense. So, when I started to read this the first book in this series was I expecting the paranormal angel.

I was impressed with the story in this book, with the weird murders and the dead girl in the basement. I especially like the mix of paranormal in this crime novel. That makes this series a bit more unusual than an ordinary crime series. The main character Tony was raised after his parent's death by his grandmother that's now in the hospital following a stroke. And, 10 years ago his fiancee Kirsty Summers was murdered. So, he hasn't had an easy life and he hasn't much of a private life. Basically, he lives for his job and that's good because he has much to do in this book. He must solve the murders, find out the truth about the girl in the basement, and stop a cat burglar that targets houses of recently deceased people.

It's a dark book, but with humorous banters the characters. I especially like the coroner Angus Cadwallader, he brightens up the book, despite his job. Angus and Tony's scenes are always fun to read, despite the fact that they often met when someone has died.

I found this book, the first in the series to be an excellent book, with an intriguing and thrilling story! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 14, 2017 |
James Oswald makes his writing debut with Natural Causes, introducing Edinburgh-based Detective Inspector Tony McLean. The novel opens with the discovery of a young woman who has been tortured and murdered in what appears to be a ritualistic manner. Evidence shows she died approximately sixty years ago. In a parallel story line, the city is horrified by a series of robberies and murders where no motive is apparent. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the sixty year old ritualistic killing.

The story is complex and interesting, but I found it hard to keep track of some of the details that were vital to the case. The cast of characters is large and diverse. The author struggled a bit in deciding whether he was writing a paranormal suspense book or a police procedural. Overall, this book was an enjoyable read. The next book in the series looks promising and I hope to read it soon.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Aug 9, 2017 |
James Oswald is a new author for me and I found his writing to be very easy to read. His characters were very well-drawn and by the end of the book, I felt like I knew them very well. The plot had more supernatural aspects then I am used to reading with the mystery suspense genre which made the book feel more like horror. I was glad to see that the supernatural aspects were fully explained and plausible in the end. The storyline was well-paced and hard to put down. There were many twists and turns which keep me guessing until the very end. The only thing I can complain about is that there were some loose ends and questions not answered at the end of the book but, hopefully, they will be answered in the next book. I look forward to reading book 2 of the Detective Inspector McLean series and I highly recommend this book to those who like mystery suspense with a touch of the supernatural. ( )
  EadieB | Feb 27, 2017 |
This is the first book in the DI Anthony McLean series. There are several cases in which McLean is involved but the primary one - the ritualistic murder of a young girl from 60 years ago but newly discovered - seems to have connections to current crimes. Tony has to conduct his investigation with limited resources and very little help as most of the personnel in the precinct are assigned to a high-profile murder.

Natural Causes is a new genre for James Oswald who is primarily known for fantasy. However, he does a very good job on his first crime/mystery book by giving us characters that are likable (most, anyway), cases that are interesting and just enough information to potentially allow the reader to have a chance of solving the case along with McLean.

Tony McLean is an interesting guy. He's a new Detective Inspector who has already had run-ins with the Chief Inspector when he was working his cases as a sergeant. His fiancee was horribly murdered a few years ago and he has not yet fully recovered from that loss. His grandmother, who raised him from age 4 after the death of his parents, has been in a stroke-induced coma for the past 18 months. Despite all of these challenges (or maybe because of them?) he puts his all into solving crimes and getting answers/closure for the loved ones.

I really liked the characters - Tony, Emma, McBride, even Grumpy Bob - and enjoyed Oswald's writing style. I definitely intend to continue with the series - especially as it appears the next book will give us more insight into Tony's past. A note - this book does contain a supernatural aspect but it, ultimately, did not detract from the story though I was initially concerned that it would.

Rating: 4 Stars ( )
  bhabeck | Feb 26, 2017 |
I read this as a Group Read and as an author new to me, based around a newly promoted detective in Edinburgh. I have to say I think I have found a new and good author who put together an excellent story, with bodies dropping all over the place based on events in the past. It had all the markings of a 4.5 star rating or higher, and halfway through the last section of the book I still wasn't totally clear what was going on. However the ending with it's supernatural element just let it down a touch for me. I don't mind supernatural but the book wasn't really advertised as such so this cost it half a star for me. However it was still a very good read and I will be continuing with the series. ( )
  Andrew-theQM | Feb 26, 2017 |
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To my parents, David and Juliet. I wish you were here to share in this.
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Natural Causes" is the first novel from James Oswald in the "Detective Inspector McLean" series. A young girl's mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago. For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority - but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death. Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh's police at a loss. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory. And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil...James Oswald's "Detective Inspector McLean" appears here for the first time. "Natural Causes" is the opening to an electrifying new series. Subsequent titles include "The Book of Souls" and "The Hangman's Song". Fans of Ian Rankin, Peter James and Stuart McBride will love James Oswald's work. Praise for James Oswald: "A star of Scotland's burgeoning crime fiction scene". ("Daily Record"). James Oswald is the author of the "Detective Inspector McLean" series of crime novels. The first two in the series, "Natural Causes" and "The Book of Souls", are available from Penguin, with the third title, "The Hangman's Song", forthcoming for 2014. He has also written an epic fantasy series, "The Ballad of Sir Benfro" as well as comic scripts and short stories. In his spare time James runs a 350 acre livestock farm in North East Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney Sheep.… (more)

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