Bury Them Deep, the tenth book in his best-selling Inspector McLean series, is due to be published on 20 February and the author has ensured the landmark tale lives up to those to have gone before.
As the prologue reveals, BuryThem Deep may well be inspired by one of the most infamous chapters in Scottish folklore but with ‘dogging’ a feature, this story is very much set in the now.
The novel once again finds McLean policing an instantly recognisable if slightly skewed Edinburgh and Lothians. From Fettes to Bilston Glen, Saughton Prison to the Royal Infirmary, Penicuik to Stockbridge, they’re all there in this engrossing police procedural, which starts when Anya Reynolds, a member of DCI McLean’s Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work.
Concern for her whereabouts is immediate and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of the city sets off a desperate search for the missing woman. Meanwhile, McLean is preparing for a major anti-corruption operation - one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the Capital. Is Reynolds’ disappearance a coincidence or related to the case?
McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps Reynolds isn’t the first woman to have vanished in these ancient hills and as ever, he can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work.
Oswald’s ability to tease out a story has never been more evident than in this taught, pacy investigation, which ensures the pages keep turning long after you intended to put the book down. Late nights are guaranteed.
The regulars that people Oswald’s dark, macabre Edinburgh pop up throughout the novel, some remembered without playing any direct part in the tale, which my suspicious nature leads me to believe that the dice are being cast for a future book, currently innocuous pieces of information being woven into place. Clues.Waiting. Time will tell.
Fans will be pleased to see the return of Grumpy Bob who grounds every page he appears on and one or two others familiar faces who have now noticeably mellowed over the series.
As ever, the investigation twists and turns with each new grisly discovery creating more questions than answers. Not that regular readers would have it any other way.
The result is another rip-roaring tryst with the irrational fears that surface from deep within our collective psyche when faced with the chilling prospect that evil forces might just exist after all. A fear Oswald gleefully manipulates with a sharp turn of phrase and deft touch of Grand-Guignol.
Bury Them Deep, by James Oswald, published in hardback by Wildfire, £16.99, on 20 February, also available in Ebook and Audiobook