September 27, 2022

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The Coffinmaker’s Back garden, by Stuart MacBride

3 min read

The latest novel in the Ash Henderson collection has an intriguing premise, but it’s let down by some uninspiring characterisation, writes Rhona Shennan



Stuart MacBride wearing glasses


© Stuart MacBride PIC: Mark Mainz


Stuart MacBride is the bestselling creator of the Logan McRae and Ash Henderson novels, and he has also penned a amount of standalone novels, shorter stories and even a children’s photo e book. His most up-to-date supplying is The Coffinmaker’s Backyard, the 3rd in the Detective Inspector Ash Henderson series – other than you’d improved make that ex-Detective Inspector now.

The opening is intriguing: a storm is raging and the home of Gordon Smith is falling little bit by little bit into the North Sea. As the headland on which the home is positioned crumbles absent, the dark secrets and techniques he has been hiding are slowly and gradually uncovered, and the human remains buried in his yard are found out.

With the storm battering the Scottish coast, however, it’s also harmful to retrieve the bodies, and with every passing moment a further piece of important proof is swallowed up by the drinking water, hardly ever to be seen yet again. The story then follows Henderson as he sets out to track down the chilly-blooded killer.

It’s a promising start off. Difficulties is, nothing at all feels true, from the characters on their own to the way they interact with each other, and even the tale itself. Quite a few of the figures really feel like caricatures, such as, sad to say, the challenging-boiled ex-detective who does not enjoy by the guidelines and his quirky sidekick, Dr Alice MacDonald, who functions more like a remarkable teenager than a 30-calendar year-aged forensic psychologist. Other people are in the same way bland placeholders: the dumb a single to make Ash seem intelligent, the aggravating one for Ash to berate, and so on.

Furthermore, the undertones of sexism and racism are also a great deal to dismiss. The constant references to the appears to be and pores and skin color of a person black woman character are pointless, and said character, who is essentially a law enforcement officer, doesn’t get to do a great deal apart from chauffeur Ash about and get ogled at. Probably these aspects ended up published into the story to include some notion of realism – the world is not as politically appropriate as we could possibly like it to be, soon after all – but as a substitute they occur throughout as pressured and unnatural, and the identical can be explained for the the vast majority of the dialogue.



a close up of a sign


© The Coffinmaker’s Back garden, by Stuart MacBride


As previously outlined, this is the third book in the Ash Henderson series, so it is all-natural that there may be some parts where by new readers may well battle to catch up with the tale so much. Nonetheless, there is a enormous solid of figures to get your head around, and this is not manufactured any simpler by the point that MacBride refers to them applying a mixture of their last title, initial title, rank and any quantity of nicknames as very well.

The Coffinmaker’s Backyard garden, by Stuart MacBride, HarperCollins, £18.99

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