'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Natural Causes by James Oswald

The Inspector McLean Mysteries book 1

Genre: detective, mystery, paranormal

Published by Devildog Publishing 

Estimated 344 pages

Opening lines:
She screams when the nail goes in.
     Bright pain rips through her hand as she struggles against him, pinned to the floor by the weight of his body. this isn't right. He shouldn't hurt her. He's a good man, a handsome man. A kind man. He helped her family through the war.

Setting: Edinburgh Scotland

Cast of Characters:
Detective Inspector Anthony McLean. Newly promoted. Raised by his Gran after his parents where killed when he was four. From old money. Thorough, goes the extra mile, checks all the facts and good to his team.

City Pathologist Angus Cadwallader and his assistant Tracy. McLean seems to spend a lot of time in the morgue with Angus - the body count just keeps adding up.

Grumpy Bob. McLean's Detective Sergeant. Why do they call him Grumpy?

Emma Baird. The new Crime Scene Photographer. Does she have a thing for McLean? Is she the one leaking crime scene photos?

Detective Constable Stuart MacBride. A young, intelligent detective the Chief Superintendent gives to McLean to help out. He is quite an asset to the time with all his knowledge of, well everything.

Chief Inspector Duguid. McLean's superior and thorn in his side. Duguid is sloppy and lazy. He is always causing problems for McLean.

Amazon book description
The body of a young woman is found walled up in the basement of an old Edinburgh mansion. A prominent local figure is brutally murdered. An illegal immigrant cuts his throat in a city centre pub. As violence descends upon the city, Detective Inspector McLean must think the unthinkable. An ancient evil has been freed, and only if he accepts that it can exist will he be able to stop it.

My favorite line in the book:
All our lives are defined by endless little tragedies.

This novel was a little gorier than I usually read since I spend so much time in vintage mysteries. The opening scene is the worse. Think the TV show 'Criminal Minds'. But I loved it. It worked. The lead character McLean is likable and interesting. The team he has works well together, I liked them all.  Just enough Scottish brogue to be fun and authentic. And a 'killer' plot! No pun intended :)

We have the 50 year old unsolved ritual murder that McLean seems obsessed with solving. And now bodies keep popping up with eerily similar M/O. And horrific suicides in public places. Then there's the rash of robberies going on. Are they connected? When one of the victims turns out to be an old family friend of his Grans and her lawyer, McLean has to wonder how he figures in to this. What was the secret his Gran was keeping from him and had instructed her lawyer to tell him upon her death? Now that he's dead will McLean ever know? Could something evil and unearthly be behind all of this?

I don't like paranormal novels but this one is so different from most. It is so subtle. Believe me you'll like this one! The second book in the series is out now too. Check out 'The Book of Souls' while your at it. I bought it already. Can't wait to see what McLean and his team are up to next.

The author James Oswald has also written a fantasy series featuring Sir Benfro a dragon in the mythical land of Gwad. There are also several short stories featuring Inspector McLean. Stop over at Devildog Publishing and download them for free. James has a degree in psychology and now lives in Scotland -North East Fife and raises Highland Cattle and Romney Sheep.

This post is linked to Mysteries in Paradise's Crime Fiction Alphabet for the letter N


  1. I downloaded it for free from amazon sometime back. Your review makes it sound interesting! I will pick it up soon!

    1. I might not have got to it for a long time if not for needing a N for the crime fiction alphabet! Glad I did!

  2. I read both books and they are absolutely wonderful. Best stories I've read since Stephen Leather's Nightingale series. If you read those 3 books and liked them, you will love Oswald's books. Looking forward to another McLean novel. Hopefully, the wait won't be too long.

    1. Stephen Leather is new to me. I just got a short stories to see if I like his work. thanks for stopping by!

  3. It's the goriness which puts me off modern crime books but I think I will give this one a go, especially as he's obviously a local author!

    1. check out his pic on his site and maybe you'll run into him in the grocery store or something!

  4. Your review is very persuasive, even though I don't care for paranormal elements in mysteries either. If I get a Kindle, I will seek it out.

    1. That is the only problem with these Kindle only books. People without a kindle can't read them. I don't have a Kindle, I have an iPad and got the Kindle app for it. Love it!

    2. Tracy Oswald just got a deal with a publisher in the US so it will be out in paperback here too!


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