Book Review: The Coffinmaker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride

A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

This is a properly dark crime novel in every sense of the word. There is nothing but a grim and unrelenting sequence of events, that somehow manage to get progressively darker as the book goes on. That said, its a gripping read, just not a cheerful one!

I didn’t realise when I started reading this that it is actually the third in a series featuring Ash Henderson. I don’t feel like I had missed a lot that I couldn’t catch up on but there has obviously been character development over the other books that I haven’t seen. I have however read some of the Logan McRae series (although not all) so I had some idea of the authors dark and gritty style going in.

The crimes being investiagated in this novel are dark – a garden full of human remains discovered as a house falls into the sea with no hope of recovering them and a child killer on the loose at the same time.

The book started with a heart-in-mouth set of events and it just kept going form there. It was an engaging read with one known perpetrator who needed to be tracked down and one unknown who needed to be discovered.

What I did find surprising and I’ll be honest unrealistic was the sheer amount of physical violence dealt out by Ash and his police colleagues. While I don’t deny that it must happen sometimes, there was an awful lot of it here and I just don’t think Ash would still be working with the police in any capacity after his actions here. Alongside that he plays very fast and loose with the truth when there are other options he could take – and rarely gets called on it in a meaningful way.

It detracted from the story a bit for me, which is a shame as I actually really enjoyed the rest.

With thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for honest review.

The Coffinmaker’s Garden will be available January 2021