The gritty new standalone crime novel from the No. 1 best-selling author of Shatter the Bones and Dark Blood
Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret...
Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her 13th birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front - Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last. The tabloids call him The Birthday Boy. He's been snatching girls for 12 years, always in the run-up to their 13th birthday, sending the families his homemade cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death. But Ash hasn't told anyone about Rebecca's birthday cards - they all think she's just run away from home - because if anyone finds out, he'll be taken off the investigation. And he's sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter's killer gets what he deserves...
©2012 Stuart MacBride (P)2011 HarperCollins
I'm an avid reader and my choice of books is pretty eclectic. The heavier stuff I still read, but I love audible books for lighter stuff!
Set in a fictional 'Oldcastle' with completely new characters this book is grisly, violent, and shocking; 'gritty' is an understatement - it is more like being carried along on an avalanche of boulder scree.... and I absolutely loved it. MacBride has created some great new characters, and I especially enjoyed Alice aka 'Dr McFruitloop', who is more than a little off-the-wall. Generously larded with MacBride's typical black Scottish humour to help alleviate some of the more revolting bits, I found this compulsive listening. What's more the plot is well-constructed, and though I wouldn't quite say believable (I would prefer perverts like the Birthday Boy to remain firmly in the domain of fiction!), I found myself guessing till the end.
In my opinion MacBride set the bar high when he narrated some of his earlier books himself, so Ian Hanmore had a hard act to follow. He does a very good job - tackling quite a few different accents with aplomb, and was an excellent choice for the job. I really enoyed his narration.
If you are familiar with MacBride's books then you know what to expect so no warnings needed. If you are new to this author then be warned that his books are like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Not for those offended by strong language or violence, or have too many delicacies and a sense of humour failure - for others, highly recommended!
Having listened to a number of Logan McRae books, I decided to take a risk with this standalone novel. The protagonist (Ash Henderson) is markedly different from McRae - a far more visceral and gritty character. At one point he is described as a "Man of Violence", and this is particularly apt. Nevertheless, MacBride provides the reader with a brutal, yet gripping narrative in which we follow Henderson and his quirky psychologist sidekick as they search ever more frantically for the twisted "Birthday Boy". If you're a fan of MacBride and can endure the stark and unflinching descriptions of violence, you'll find this book a compelling and enjoyable read.
If I was reading this book I wouldn't have put it down until I finished it. Totally gripping the whole way through, excellent. Narration was superb
Great hideous premise for a story and fantastically rich characters. I did find a cop keeping "his" secret in this hard to accept.
The agony for the victims is unbearable and holds the tension brilliantly. This is then spoilt by the rather drawn out back story.
Accepting that it is a great story and I still love the gritty writing of Stuart MacBride.
Its in my top 3. Loved the characters and thought the narrator was brilliant. So good ive now downloaded all of Mr McBrides books!
ash was great but the psychologist was extremely funny
he was amazing. my favourite narrator from now on.
both, gruesome and funny
I was prepared not to enjoy this, as I love the Logan Macrae series set in my hometown of Aberdeen, and didn't want a break from that storyline. In some ways, this standalone was even more gruesome than the Logan books, and very depressing as Ash seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis. However I persevered and the characters really grew on me as the book progressed - wondering if we will see them again in another tale IF Stuart can come up with a plausible 'recovery' from the final events of this story.
I am a fan of MacBride and was expecting a dark, gritty, violent and blackly humorous tale. Birthdays For The Dead lived up to all my expectations. It was pacey and the characters interesting. The plot was full of twists and turns, though credibility was stretched at times. The narration was excellent. Overall, not a story for the faint hearted!
I run a personal ironing service, I listen to lots of audio books
This was a great book to listen to, kept me on the edge of my seat the characters are so real. great book
I really liked the story and yet felt it was very slow in telling, an excellent concept shame that it side tracked a little too much. Narration excellent. The gripping underlying theme was brilliant, have to say I fast forwarded through the to get to the good bits. Screen blocked now by advert for coupons !
Read and enjoyed all the Logan McRae books and looked forward to listening to this. But to my mind it revelled in its violence to a distasteful degree. Sorry that Macbride has decided to join the ranks of the increasingly tired serial killer aficionados.
That being said, well written, well read.
"For those who can stomach strong violence"
I would definitely listen to another book by this narrator but as for the author I'd be more picky. This book was very violent, gratuitously so in my opinion, and I didn't think much of the plotting or the main character. I'm prepared to give the author another go because there are hints of writing that I do like (particularly the humour) but I'm wary of more of the same.
The changes in voices for the different characters were subtle but noticeable enough to make the book easy to follow. I do like a Scottish accent too.
Revulsion mostly. I've had my fill of serial killer books featuring tortured souls on disgusting quests that require the mutilation of innocent people - being a crime fiction fan I've come across a lot of these but am well and truly done with this particular sub genre. I've also had it with excessively violent blokes using their fists to solve every problem they come across.
This book was not for me but I don't think it's badly written. It just takes readers down a path I have trodden too often before.
"Birthdays for the Dead"
I want a t-shirt that says "I survived listening to Birthdays for the Dead." It was very good, but, yikes, it was difficult listening on occasion.
This piece is generally entertaining--especially the police profiler--and very well read, but the repeated and prolonged descriptions of physical assaults became tedious.
Exciting! Impossible to put down! Stuart MacBride (whom I've never read before) is at the top with other European crime authors. The narration is also fine. You'll not be disappointed!
"Violent and Tedious"
I don't normally write reviews, but this book was such a frustrating slog I had to warn people. The story is horrifically violent but what I really couldn't stand was that there was no actual detective work. Just a main character out of control hurling from one stupid decision to another with no one actually following clues, or gathering evidence or doing anything that even resembles police work. The "profiler" is a throw away character and adds nothing to the story or the solving of the crime. The ending is unbearably sad and the whole book is just scene after scene of pointless violence, most of which doesn't even move the story forward. Ian Hanmore is, as always, great. I haven't read any other books by this author and I don't know if I will bother with any others.
"Happy to hear that Ash will be back"
Yes, but to those who have a strong stomach. Jo Nesbo fans maybe. Terrific suspense, great storytelling with a dose of dark humor.
Yeah, it was just about impossible to put down.
Terrific reader. The lead character is the kind of flawed anti-hero I like to read about. Really wanted to hear what happened to him next, and to his profiler. Was very pleased when I checked the author's website to see that another Ash Henderson novel will be out in January. Yeah, the book was pretty violent, but no worse than Val MacDermid or Jo Nesbo or others I could name. And this was more entertaining than most.
"Excellently written book"
There's something (brilliant) about the style of this story telling.
I liked those parts where he made me laugh loudly. And those were many. I promise you will like the psychologist Alice McDonnald helping to solve the case. She was soooooo weird but in such a cute way you could not resist liking her. After many situations where she was portrayed like a total nut they visited retired Henry Anderson another psychologist another individual in his cabin. She again did not miss a chance to prove she is a total case which made Henry raise his eyebrow and say "Ain't she delightfully quirky?". Then later several chapters when chasing the suspect and facing a dangerous situation Ash (the main character) stressed her no to do something reckless and she said "I'm delightfully quirky not stupid!".
I wont be able to read it with Scottish accent. It was great to listen that one for a change. He gave the characters life and spark which I would not be able based on my experience. It requires certain theatrical skills and craft to sustain the personality of a character by speaking their parts. He was incredibly coherent through out the book.
Yes there was. But I cant write about it without revealing the story.
If you are afraid that you will be faced by long and cruel descriptions of harming innocent girls than this will not happen. You have to be however a bit stronger to accept certain parts but for most part of the book you will be following investigation. There will be a certain amount of disturbing moments so be prepared. I was a little bit worried after reading some previous reviews that my stomach may not digest this book but it was not that bad. Probably it depends on what've you read before what films you've watched and what violence you've seen before so for a moderate crime reader this should be all right. To be honest I was much more disturbed by watching film Seven with Brad Pitt. I am not giving 5 stars to this book because I will give 5 only to few books which made a really long lasting and influential impression on me. One of those books which are 5 for me are Stieg Larsson's - Girl with a Dragoon Tattoo and Godfather by Mario Puzzo.
"Fabulous performance - horrible ending!"
Someone who hates the main character.
If MacBride didn't so obviously detest the main character of his own book, he might have provided an ending that wasn't so freakin depressing.
All of them. Ian Hanmore is amazing.
The entire ending?
I love Stuart MacBride. I appreciate his dark sense of humor. I like the way he tells stories and builds his characters. I like his characters so much, in fact, that the ending of this book really surprised me in a bad way. Was MacBride just in the mood to destroy something when he wrote this book? He seems to dislike the main character. A lot.
"Good Story. Asks too much of the reader."
I read almost everything. I really enjoy MacBride's Logan McRae books. I love the gritty local color of the Scottish police department in Aberdeen. I thought this was another Logan book and I enjoyed the character Ash- Although I can't condone his ask-questions-later style and it's not really working for him in this his first book. With all the positives of this novel, I remain unhappy but I respect the writer's skill.
"An enthralling book"
Best of MacBride
Ash Henderson as he was tough and uncompromising however he also was vulnerable
Cold blooded killer operating in the cold of Scotland
Very well read - I was thoroughly entertained
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