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No Less The Devil: The unmissable new thriller from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Logan McRae series

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For reasons unknown to me I suddenly found the urge to try, I spotted No Less The Devil on Netgalley and thought- here’s a way to make sure I finally read some more MacBride, I’ll sign up to review. So here we are..

With "No Less The Devil" he has outdone himself. Fully absorbing, both hilarious and very very disturbing this novel is a tale of two halves and goes nowhere you could expect or predict. The book centres on Operation Maypole, the Scottish Police’s attempt to catch the serial killer they’ve named the Bloodsmith. It’s been 17 months since his first kill and DS Lucy McVeigh is tasked with going over the evidence collected so far in the hope of establishing a new lead. With her partner, the Dunk (DC Duncan Fraser), she revisits crime scenes and uncovers new information – although she is in danger of being distracted by a cry for help from a paranoid prisoner who was previously convicted of killing a homeless man. As the murders continue, Lucy finds herself dealing with forces beyond her own comprehension….Stuart MacBride is an automatic must-read for me... always fast, hard, authentic - and different. Lee Child BUT....while subject matter, characters & their roles/relationships may feel familiar, don't get too comfy. And lose that smug little smile. I guarantee you have no idea where this is heading. To be honest, at one point I wondered if a "Dallas" style moment was pending...a scene where everyone wakes up & realizes it was all a dream. With the case going nowhere the investigating team are restructured and DS Lucy McVeigh and her partner DC Duncan "The Dunk" Fraser are given the task of reviewing the victims and the murder scenes in the hope that someone will remember something that will help them close a case that has ground to a halt after seventeen months. It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast. No Less The Devil is a standalone crime thriller by bestselling Scottish author Stuart MacBride, known for his brilliant Logan McRae / Roberta Steel and Ash Henderson series. Set in the fictional Scottish city of Oldcastle, No Less The Devil fits within the Ash Henderson universe, but like A Dark So Deadly features its own set of unique characters.

I would like to thank both Netgalley and the publisher, for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Genres: Fiction, Crime, Mystery & Detective, General, Police Procedural, Traditional, Thrillers, Suspense Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small 'a'), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living. No Less The Devil is more than just a crime fiction novel though. It is a stunning commentary on post Covid society and MacBride has chosen to mainly provide this commentary through the eyes of The Dunc, which works beautifully in my opinion. No Less the Devil is the examination of the case is pushed onto The Dunk and McVeigh, and they revisit each of the five crime scenes to try and look at it from a different perspective. Although they find new evidence, they are pulling at strings trying to find a connection between all five victims. Lucy is also preoccupied with the evolving problem that is Benedict Strachan. He has recently been released from prison after serving many years for the murder of a homeless man when he was eleven. He wants her help after professing that “they” are after him, is it just the ramblings of a deranged mind?

The story begins with a prologue, the murder of a homeless man by two children (preteens), then shifts into typical MacBride country—a police station in Oldcastle, a fictitious city in Scotland that serves as the setting for most of the author’s darker stories—madcap with a somber overcast. So the reader knows what to expect. It sounds like paranoia, but what if he's right? What if the Bloodsmith isn't the only monster out there? No Less The Devil is an object lesson in how to use, and manipulate, a terrifyingly bloodthirsty basic plot, and capture and hold the reader’s attention over a sustained period. MacBride is a prolific author whose style stays fresh and even topical and who handles extreme gore dispassionately, as if he is a pathologist or a police family liaison officer. Wow, I get so excited when a new Stuart MacBride book comes out and I try to savour it ... However, that doesn't always go to plan, because master of storytelling, gritty crime fiction and tartan humour, MacBride, generally has me wheeching through the book at a rate of knots.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he's right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy's ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn't the only monster out there? And what's going to happen when Lucy goes after them? I view Dunk as the alter ego of the author. MacBride is laughing at himself. Not just comedy relief, but a statement of where he fits into this cultural environment—-fiction based on reality. Dunk is constantly complaining about writers who don’t use punctuation properly in their reports and, at one point, likens himself Dr. Watson following Holmes (Lucy)—in other words, a writer, telling a story about Lucy’s investigative prowess.DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. I received a suprise copy of No Less the Devil by Stuart McBride from Penguin Books Australia and immediately my husband stole it and read it. So here are his thoughts: Then around the 80% mark the story takes a sharp turn. I was expecting some of it—the foreshadowing of Lucy’s PTSD—but not all of it. There are more twists and turns through the last 20%, some I liked and some I didn’t like. But at the end, I was left with an uneasy feeling, because many of the killers escaped justice. In real life, this is often true, but most of us read thrillers because we want things to end right, the culprits caught, and justice to prevail. When an author doesn’t give us that satisfaction, we are left with a feeling of unease. Yes, MacBride throws us tidbits: not all the culprits escape; some are captured/killed. But some flourish.

Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill -- a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen -- where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat's doodad. Stuart MacBride is an automatic must-read for me... always fast, hard, authentic - and different' LEE CHILD It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them? The storyline is as expertly plotted as I've come to expect from the MacBride books. As an author myself, I love deconstructing the plot lines and following the different strands through. As a reader, every twist and turn, every carefully placed piece of additional information, every morsel of information all come together to a satisfying, grab you by the throat, fast paced read. Add the perfect amount of location description and MacBride easily sets and maintains the atmosphere of the bleak, grey Scottish scene.So why three stars instead of five? I think this is partly my fault for expecting the novel to fit the genre neatly – I had expectations for the resolution and it just didn’t go the way I thought, In fact – without giving spoilers – it takes some unnerving, unexpected and brave paths. I think some readers will absolutely love the denouement – it’s clever and interesting – but it was just a little too confusing for me, A homeless man is found brutally murdered in a dilapidated cottage in the woods outside Oldcastle. The words "Help Me" written in blood on a nearby wall link the crime to a gruesome series of murders committed a couple of years previously by a killer dubbed "the Bloodsmith" by the baying press. This is a difficult review to write. Throughout most of the story, I felt it was a five-star read, then came the ending, which disappointed me—it didn’t feel right—and so I lowered my internal rating system to four stars. Then waited a while to ensure I got it right.

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