Three years ago when Stuart MacBride appeared at the Edinburgh Book Festival his hapless interviewer was left literally speechless after her introduction because MacBride took to the floor with a hilarious, filthy, anecdote-filled Power Point presentation. Her closing words of thanks were all that she could then contribute.
Stephanie Merritt, who interviewed MacBride at this yearâ€™s Book Festival, must have felt some trepidation. She need not have worried. This year Macbride engaged in conversation in a breezy, humorous question and answer session that displayed a definite rapport between the two. He explained why his Logan MacRae crime series is set in Aberdeen. There are, he said, too many series set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Central Belt is awash with alcoholic Detective Inspectors whose complicated lives and prickly manner make them mavericks in their department.
In contrast, Sergeant Logan MacRae is a steady, normal presence, surrounded by oddball superiors. Especially Detective Chief Inspector Steel, who sets a new benchmark for eccentric behaviour. As one audience member described her â€œ a right cowâ€, but according to MacBride in his latest novel she does eventually get a bra to fit her.
Aberdeen is the city MacBride knows best, and he likes the grey granite rainy backdrop of dreichness. The humour stands out better. For these are novels rich in gruesomeness and banter.
The tenth full-length novel in the series â€œIn The Cold Dark Groundâ€ hardly got a mention in the discussion. MacBride does not have to promote his books, he merely chats to his fans. In fact, at the end of the session he warmly promoted his interlocutorâ€™s novel â€œConspiracyâ€ as being a book he urged us to read. Gallant indeed, and a fine end to an amusing and enjoyable talk.
In The Cold Dark Ground – now available in paperback