Dying Light by Stuart MacBride is his second outing for tough Aberdeen cop Detective Sergeant Logan McRae. A word often used to describe MacBride's style is "gritty" and "Dying Light" continues the theme of fast-paced violence and gripping plot first seen in McRae's inaugural outing, "Cold Granite". The result is a book that is extremely difficult to put down, and one that leaves the reader feeling just a little complicit for enjoying a story in which so many bad things happen to good people. "Dying Light" confirms Stuart MacBride's place as one of the very best writers of crime fiction today.
MacBride's writing gives Aberdeen a dark brooding atmosphere, and even the daytime scenes can feel as if they are set at night. Add in the author's ability to bring dark humour to his subject, and what emerges is some really excellent scene setting: "The Regents Arms was a little bar on Regent Quay with a three am licence. Not the smartest place in Aberdeen: it was dark, dirty, missing an apostrophe, and smelled of spilt beer and old cigarettes. Popular with the kind of people that hung around the docks after sundown. Logan took one look at the clientele and recognised at least three he'd arrested before... so there was no way he was going to risk using the toilets here."
DS McRae is in the docks, which double as Aberdeen's red light district, investigating the death of Rosie Williams, a prostitute beaten to death and left naked on the street. His wait for backup is a long one, as on the other side of the city six people have been burned to death in a petrol soaked squat, with its doors and windows screwed shut from the outside. Offsetting the grimness of the setting, and the frequency with which it is visited by violent death, are the interactions between the main characters. The dialogue has a captivatingly fly-on-the-wall feel to it. Most readers will have no idea if Aberdeen cops really talk like MacBride's characters, but it is very easy to believe they might.