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Birthdays for the Dead Paperback – February 19, 2013

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Birthdays for the Dead + Close to the Bone (Logan McRae, Book 8) + Shatter the Bones (Logan McRae, Book 7)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Taking a break from his Logan McRae series, MacBride offers a stand-alone whose premise is pure, twisted genius. Ash Henderson, a big, bruising police detective in fictional Oldcastle, Scotland, has been chasing a killer who snatches girls before their thirteenth birthday, tortures them to death, and then sends birthday cards—with gruesome photos—to the girls’ families each year thereafter. The kicker? Henderson has been getting the birthday cards, too, but won’t tell anyone his missing daughter is also a victim: if he’s taken off the case, he’ll lose his chance to catch the “Birthday Boy” himself. This has all the hallmarks of MacBride’s best books—gruesome violence, foul weather, pitch-black humor, and entertainingly mismatched protagonists (Henderson is paired with “freak-show” forensic psychologist Alice McDonald). But despite all this has to offer readers so inclined, MacBride needs an editor who’s not afraid to use a knife, as the book feels about 100 pages and one plot twist too long. On the other hand, those who enjoy spending time in MacBride’s dark world may not mind a bit. --Keir Graff

Review

Praise for Birthdays for the Dead:

‘MacBride is a damned fine writer – no one does dark and gritty like him’ Peter James

‘The master of murderous mayhem is back to his best with a belter of a book … a page-turner’ The Sun

Praise for Stuart MacBride:

‘Fierce, unflinching and shot through with the blackest of humour; this is crime fiction of the highest order’ Mark Billingham

‘Ferocious and funny, this is Tartan Noir at its best’ Val McDermid

‘Stuart MacBride’s thrillers just keep getting better’ Express

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (August 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007344201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007344208
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harley on April 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
An absolute bloodbath. About 13 dead girls and who knows how many other side characters. I think the body count must have been in the twenties in the end. Ash is a cop, but spends his time either beating up potential suspects or getting cash with menaces to pay off his debts. The body count builds, tit for tat violence escalating as Ash desperately races to find the killer of his daughter. You can pretty much see the ending coming. Ash gets beaten up regularly through the pages,definitely a plus. The women around him mostly end up drunk - you cannot blame them. There is nothing to like in most of the characters. The best that can be said, and the only reason for my 3 stars , is that it is a tense story and well written with flashes of McBride's dark humour. And although the characters are unsympathetic, they are well drawn and believable. Even if McBride is a bit hard on the police in this one, they are all either on the make or paedophiles so far as I can see. If you can stand the blood then it probably is worth the buy. My main problem is it left me feeling nothing really. I did not care for the outcome because I could not identify with any of the characters and just wanted it over. Don't let this be your first McBride, I love his books and will forgive him this but if it's your first one you might never read another.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gloria Feit VINE VOICE on June 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In his new standalone mystery/thriller, the author introduces DC Ash Henderson of the Oldcastle Police, formerly DI Ash Henderson - he was busted down to Constable following a particularly horrific phase of an investigation into murders committed by a killer dubbed by the tabloids the "Birthday Boy," an investigation now eight years old. The victims have all been young girls, abducted within a few days of their thirteenth birthday, their parents tormented with photos mailed to them every year on the ensuing birthdays, each one increasingly grotesque in its images of torture, mutilation and, finally, death. What no one else knows - not the detectives with whom he works, not even his wife - is that Henderson's daughter, Rebecca, who went missing five years before, is another of those victims. The rest of the world believes that she has simply gone missing; Ash has hidden the truth so that he can continue to hunt for the killer, in the quite-correct belief that he would otherwise be pulled off the case, placed on compassionate leave and given grief counseling.

Henderson is a fascinating protagonist, 45 years old, with an ex-wife and twelve-year-old daughter and now living in a dilapidated council estate, he is not one to shy away from exacting revenge, or justice, when called for. But the most fascinating of the characters created by Mr. MacBride for this novel is Dr. Alice McDonald, brilliant forensic psychologist, somewhat mentally unstable, self-described as "delightfully quirky" - - a more objective viewpoint might include OCD and perhaps agoraphobia.

The book takes place over a period of ten excruciating days, as the victim list mounts, and bodies are suddenly found, and the hunt for the Birthday Boy has suddenly become more intense, if possible.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By essgee on September 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Like others, I have read all of MacBride's books, and knew that this one was a departure from Laz Logan et al. I note some of the negative reviews on here, and can only say that these readers are missing the boat. Of course there are similarities in the content and flow, and if those who have followed Logan really closely may have noted, particularly in Shatter the Bones, Stuart was looking for a way to get Logan involved in some darker, under the radar activity. Instead of spoiling Logan, he's invented Henderson, who does precisely that. I think that's extremely clever and brave, given that too many people want the author to write EXACTLY what they want... but a writer has to have his own licence. The criminal noir humour is what has made his work so distinctive, so why complain when he serves up a terrific helping in Birthdays for the Dead? I downloaded the book and read it in almost one sitting....couldn't put it down, except to sleep. I was also comfortable with some of the overlay themes from prior novels. For those with a wider eclecticism of taste and can remember John Steinbeck, he used to write in what became known as a "phalanx of writing" inasmuch as most of his books could overlap with each other... MacBride's offerings fill that idiom for me, and I enjoy it immensely. Whether the next book is Logan, Henderson or another set of people to lease space in my brain, I'm up for it. Keep them flowing Stuart....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. R. L. Dove on April 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
The cover attracted me in the bookshop and then after reading the blurb, it sounded right up my street so I bought it, and I wasn't disappointed.

The premise that there is a serial killer out there who snatches girls and then every year sends a birthday card with a torture photo to the parents is interesting enough, but Ash, the Detective on the case is what made this book, along with Dr Alice McDonald, who for a lot of the book is like a babbling child.

Ash's oldest daughter Rebecca, is an unknown victim of the killer but her dad is keeping it secret so that he can stay on the case.

The book zips along nicely, with everyone wanting a piece of Ash, from fierce debt collectors to his colleagues, not forgetting his wronged ex wife. It all reaches a dramatic ending in the last chapter, and it kept me guessing till the end, and then I still got it wrong.

Now this is the first Stuart MacBride book that I have read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This book is not for the faint heart though, and this copper is not the blue eyed boy we normally read of in books, in fact he would make a good hit man, which was refreshing, and in places, hard to read.

I saw that this book has got some negative reviews, but I did really enjoy it, and I am planning to read his back catalogue. The one thing that did get confusing though was the Scottish dialects peppered throughout the book, which is set in Dundee. Some parts I just could not decode, and my husband couldn't either!

This detracted from the story a little, since I only had one side of the conversation but it was still a brilliant read. It reminded me of Martina Cole's books, where no one gets out alive or undamaged by the events of the book.
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