Dark Blood is the sixth in the excellent series of gritty crime novels set by Stuart MacBride in Aberdeen and starring as its central character Detective Sergeant Logan Macrae. Aberdeen is the family home of a convicted violent rapist of old men, Richard Knox. When Knox is released from prison in North East England he expresses a wish to begin a new, apparently reformed, life in the now semi derelict house in Aberdeen in which he spent his childhood. His crimes, and the suspicions of many that he continues to represent a real threat to society, mean that wherever Knox goes he must be watched: and when he arrives in Aberdeen the task of supervising this operation falls to DS Macrae.
This does little to improve Macrae's already highly jaundiced view of the world. We find him in the early stages of the book increasingly alienating colleagues, friends and senior officers as his respect for discipline slips further and he resorts increasingly to finding an outlet for his bitterness at being passed over for promotion in the bottle. But even a DS Macrae at less than the top of his game soon begins to wonder whether there might be more to Richard Knox's arrival in Aberdeen than meets the eye. Why has he been accompanied by a Detective Superintendent from Northumbria Police who appears to see it as his personal mission to keep close to Knox? But as press reports of the background to the case and Knox's arrival in Aberdeen lead to public outrage, Macrae finds his work cut out simply keeping Richard Knox alive, never mind out of trouble.
The early Logan Macrae books were notable for their pretty full on approach to crimes that often involved serial murders, and usually lots of them. The crimes that take place in "Dark Blood" still have the power to shock the reader, and death still stalks the streets: but there is a growing sense that Stuart MacBride now has a fully developed set of outstandingly drawn characters with which to keep the reader interested, and no longer feels the need to deploy the same degree of gore as in the past. And as the series has progressed, the author has deployed increasingly complex and subtle plotting to keep the reader turning the page. As a result "Dark Blood" seems to us to be the best of the series to date: which given the high quality of the earlier books is praise indeed.