dead mens bones paperback crime fiction book by james oswald
Books, Reviews

Dead Men’s Bones by James Oswald

Dead Men’s Bones is the fourth of nine crime fiction novels in the Inspector McLean series by the Scottish writer James Oswald.

The story of Dead Men’s Bones takes place around Edinburgh and Fife in Scotland, areas familiar to the author who raises pedigree highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep in north east Fife. It is set during the winter months, some easy to understand Scottish dialect is used throughout and a herd of highland cattle feature in one point of the story.

The tale is set around what appear to be two very different deaths. One a suicide of a man who has just killed his family and the other pointing towards suspicious circumstances. It is the job of Detective Inspector Tony McLean to connect the pieces of the puzzle and without too many more deaths in the meantime.  

Throughout the book the reader follows McLean as the main character, the thoughts, opinions and insights revealed are always from his perspective. The book is written in the present, to reveal each scenario and character in a relevant and progressive order.

dead mens bones paperback book by james oswald

The beginning of the book grasps the attention of the reader with a gripping style of writing and powerful use of adjectives to describe each scene. Towards the end of the book it is almost impossible to put it down. However, there are a few chapters around the middle that take a dip in being interesting as events become slightly repetitive, causing a feeling that the story isn’t developing.

It’s difficult throughout the book to establish what the investigations may conclude as new evidence arises. Even the origin of the books title isn’t uncovered until towards the end. As the pieces come together McLean leads the reader into a very dark scenario.

By the end of the book there are somethings that remain unexplained, hopefully not to the annoyance of the reader as the main points are tied together nicely.

The Daily Record commented that James Oswald is the new Ian Rankin with the Sunday Telegraph stating him as crime fiction’s next big thing.  



Previously a self-publishing author, this title was published by Penguin Books in 2014 with an RRP of £7.99.

Other titles in the series are Natural Causes, The Book of Souls, The Hangman’s Song, Prayer for the Dead, The Damage Done, Written in Bones, The Gathering Dark and the recently released Cold as the Grave.

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