Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: THE EDINBURGH DEAD by Brian Ruckley (2011)


The Edinburgh DeadEdinburgh, 1828 is a dangerous place brimming with all kinds of violence from the dead and alive alike. For local police sergeant, Adam Quire, the fabled become a macabre reality. Body snatching is on the rise, the cemetery a shopping mall for the experimental, a quick cash grab occupation for undesirables for the purposes of the prosperous. Missing cadavers find their way into universities for medical students to craft their trade and for the lesser well intentioned to ply their dark arts.

When a man is found with his throat torn out, dead in horrific fashion, the Edinburgh police look to Quire to solve the murder. What he embarks upon soon turns personal when attempts are made on his life, his time on the force prematurely ended, and mysterious trinkets appear in his homestead. If that wasn’t enough, he faces man made monsters and dogs akin to zombies yet more like Frankenstein’s monster – without pain or remorse, driven by murder on command of their handlers. The streets of old and new town run red with blood of innocents and Quire, unrelenting in his plight, splashes in the sickly puddles to rid Edinburgh of this darkly strange menace.

THE EDINBURGH DEAD is different from the books I’ve previously read by Brian Ruckley (The Godless World trilogy) yet the fantastical and deep characterisation remain. Quire is a well developed former solider whose natural flair and sense of purpose are derived from his violent past. Just as well given the latest endeavour he so finds himself. The plot itself initially shifts from early 1800’s horror to urban fantasy encompassing a primarily linear focus with flashbacks to Quire’s past.

I enjoyed THE EDINBURGH DEAD. It’s got a uniqueness to it that embodies multiple genres as the story unfolds but is ultimately held together by the criminal elements. Published in 2011 (Orbit) I’m surprised to not have seen any more books in this setting from Ruckley, there’s certainly enough depth Quire to warrant further instalments, be it flashbacks to his policing or the event proceeding THE EDINBURGH DEAD.

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