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Summary

A heart-stopping crime thriller from the author of three consecutive No. 1 bestsellers, including Birthdays for the Dead and the DI Logan McRae series.

He's back... Eight years ago, 'The Inside Man' murdered four women and left three more in critical condition - all of them with their stomachs slit open and a plastic doll stitched inside. And then the killer just…disappeared.

Ash Henderson was a Detective Inspector on the initial investigation, but a lot can change in eight years. His family has been destroyed, his career is in tatters, and one of Oldcastle's most vicious criminals is making sure he spends the rest of his life in prison. Now a nurse has turned up dead on a patch of waste ground, a plastic doll buried beneath her skin, and it looks as if Ash might finally get a shot at redemption. At earning his freedom. At revenge.

©2014 Stuart MacBride (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"MacBride is the natural heir to the late and much lamented Reginald Hill." (Andrew Taylor, Spectator)
"MacBride is a damned fine writer - no one does dark and gritty like him." (Peter James)
"Fierce, unflinching and shot through with the blackest of humour; this is crime fiction of the highest order." (Mark Billingham)
"Some of the grittiest crime-writing in the field." ( Independent)
"Admirers of tough, modern crime novels will be in seventh heaven - or should that be hell?" ( Express)
"Ferocious and funny." (Val McDermid)
"Hard-hitting prose with a bone-dry humour and characters you can genuinely believe in, Stuart MacBride's novels are a real treat." (Simon Kernick)

What listeners say about A Song for the Dying

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Vile crimes, awful language - got to be MacBride!

What made the experience of listening to A Song for the Dying the most enjoyable?

Ah I love MacBride! If you've read anything of his before then you'll know what to expect - absolutely monstrous crimes set in Scotland, generally atrocious weather (although he does seem to be perking this up recently) and a lot of dark cop-humour and swearing! I find that MacBride is top of his genre and I never tire of his stories. This is an 'Ash Henderson' novel and whilst I do prefer his 'Logan McRae' series due to a couple of extra amazing characters (DI Steele is pure gold!!) and the fact that there is unrestrained foul language and black comedy in them, something that seems slightly toned down in the Henderson series, I do thoroughly enjoy Ash Henderson and it's nice that MacBride is starting a whole new 'family' of characters to get to know. I can't fault this book or the author, absolutely love it!

17 people found this helpful

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Dark and compelling

I hoped we'd see Ash and Alice again after Birthdays for the Dead, but wasn't sure how.... although this tale stretches credulity sometimes, who cares. Its a really good read, even through all the darkest gut-wrenching bits. As has been said elsewhere, Ash is a real anti-hero, you shouldn't like him but he is so well-written that you understand the demons driving him, and can see past his awful behaviours into his humanity. I thought Alice was better developed too, although still not sure I understand their relationship! Ian Hanmore's performance was excellent, I loved all the characterisations. Excellent book - love both the Logan and Ash series from MacBride.

8 people found this helpful

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I enjoyed this but not as much as a Logan McCrae

This was an excellent story and was well read. There is not as much of the light relief that you get from the characters in the Logan McCrae books. I wonder if our Stuart has been on an NLP course recently?

8 people found this helpful

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Gritty entertainment

Ash is a very grey 'hero' - short tempered, aggressive & unremorseful, he doesn't seem that far away from the criminals he chases. The most unbelievable bit for me is that he doesn't strangle Dr Alice, a doctor who talks about 'tummies' & is so little girly that she could never survive either the medical or the police world. Other than that, entertaining but gory.

6 people found this helpful

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It could have been better...

Would you listen to A Song for the Dying again? Why?

Yes, because I struggled to follow the events.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Song for the Dying?

Every interaction between Henderson and Sabir (?).

What three words best describe Ian Hanmore’s performance?

Good, but confusing

Any additional comments?

For just about the first time since using Audible I thought the audiobook was let down by the performance. The first problem is that Mr Hanmore does not sufficiently distinguish different characters, of which there are many. In a book with long series of conversation without an indication who the speaker is, I found this a substantial source of confusion. The second issue is the actor's way of dealing with grunts and mumbles from gagged characters. I thought this was over the top -- several times I wanted to shout, "stop now!" Related to these issues is what was surely supposed to be background noise (singing) in the home of the child molester, which was performed more loudly than any conversation taking place at the time. Given the darkness of the story, I thought these irritations detracted from the overall experience.

6 people found this helpful

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The best narrator for Scottish Novels

I discovered the Stuart MacBride novels after finishing listening to others narrated by Ian Hanmore. This is a great listen, made even more enjoyable by Mr Hanmores fantastic voices and intonation. The story is gritty, a bit gory but totally enthralling. I want more from these characters, and I want them brought to life by Ian Hamore!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Q
  • 07-03-17

Spellbinding

Tough gritty
Plot swirling unputdownable!!
Just another feather in the Macbride hat
Roll on the next one

4 people found this helpful

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Grisly, filthy and brilliant!

Another Ash Henderson triumph. Enjoyable in a ghastly way and read brilliantly by the wonderful Ian Hanmore. Lovely stuff!

4 people found this helpful

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violence

Although a good story i found the excessive violence in this book was rather too much for me.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Gory thriller keeps you feeling the heat.

I really love how Stuart Macbride develops the grittiest of characters. He makes them totally believable. However he then seems to sort of lobotomise these self same characters in follow up books.
I noted he did it with Logan McRae and in this second book of the Ash Henderson novels he has done it again.
In book one Ash was so very believable, he reflected common parlance of the type of gritty person he was. He swore and effed and jested as he would have been expected to in his role and geographical circumstances.
In this, book two there is hardly an epithet it's almost as if we are seeing a different person and it so disappoints.
I think that Stuart Macbride let's down his fans massively. People don't follow him for Midsomer or Miss Marple type situations, or the people that inhabit their world.
I had already purchased the third of the Ash Henderson novel when I bought this second book and am therefore not looking forward to listening to it as as much now.
On the plus side Stuart comes up with intriguing stories that grip you from start to finish. His books are gory and lots of blood is spent always. That's basically why when he changed the personality of Ash so drastically I really felt let down.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 6catz
  • 22-01-14

MacBride knocks it out of the park.

What did you like best about this story?

Hooked me from the first chapter and never let up. Amazingly, I almost read this in one sitting.

What about Ian Hanmore’s performance did you like?

Excellent reader, moves seamlessly through various dialogues, male/female voices without overacting. Wonderful with the author's sprinkling of dark humor.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Dunno, but I'd cast Sean Bean as our hero.

Any additional comments?

This author has almost ruined me for other mystery writers (with a few exceptions). MacBride never settles for stock characters,TV movie dialogue or tiresome plot conventions. On the contrary: his characters are eccentric, the dialogue gritty and true to each character and the plot twists each and every familiar mystery formula into a neat pretzel. Every time I thought I had something figured out, the plot took a turn that gave me whiplash. Ash is King of the Anti-Heroes, very damaged, full of dark impulses but still somehow moral, someone you like and root for. His continuing bond with the fragile, empathy-driven profiler Alice is unique in mystery novels. Again, MacBride's books are not for the squeamish, but so rich and well-written that they leave me wanting more.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Pamela Donaldson
  • 03-10-17

This almost didn't get 4 stars...

...because it would have been REALLY nice if the book summary had mentioned that this was actually part 2. Now am I supposed endure the torture I know Ash Henderson is going to go through in part 1, when I know how it will come out??? I've already bought it, and am contemplating returning it, but I admit, battered as I am by A Song For the Dying, I really like MacBride's writing.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I'll probably read it. But I'll have to take a break and listen to something easier to take for a book or two!

Ian Hanmore's accent may be hard for an American's ears to understand at first, but using headphones helped and now I'm used to it. He doesn't distinguish enough between characters, but overall his narration is a positive for the book.

So be warned. Read Birthday's for the Dead first.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Gideon
  • 05-02-15

MacBride at his brutal best.

Beautifully read, very clever. Read Birthdays for the Dead first. Not for the faint hearted. Ash Henderson is one of a kind

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 26-04-14

Fast paced and thrilling

Where does A Song for the Dying rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

A terrific thriller, there was even humour hidden among the blood, gore and twisted minds. Far fetched, certainly and very gritty but highly entertaining and beautifully narrated by Ian Hanmore. I am really looking forward to the next book by Stuart MacBride, hoping to meet up with the same characters again.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

I was engrossed in this book from the start although I found some of the characters very harsh and some of the scenes were brutal. I loved the problem solving skills used to untangle the crimes and the way the team each pitched their unique skills to arrive at the truth. The plot reminded me of Ian Rankin with the gloves off, clever, intuitive, gritty and at times funny.

Have you listened to any of Ian Hanmore’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't heard Ian Hanmore before but love his Scottish accent and would like to hear more of him narrating .

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At times the book made me laugh but the humour was secondary and almost covert.

Any additional comments?

I loved this book, it captured my imagination and managed to be both far fetched and totally believable at the same time. The considerable talents of the writer and the narrator
combined to make this a wonderful audio experience.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Menon
  • 17-03-15

Wonderful!!

I'm thoroughly enjoying this series and can't seem to get enough.
This is one of the best series I've read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Claire
  • 07-04-14

Brilliant!

Would you consider the audio edition of A Song for the Dying to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the printed version. Why bother? The audio version is so great!!

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Song for the Dying?

So many memorable moments, it's hard to choose. Probably during the torture scene. Very gritty and difficult to read because it was so realistic.

Which character – as performed by Ian Hanmore – was your favorite?

I really liked Ash Henderson. A great cross between funny and gritty!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely. It is one of the best murder mystery thrillers that I've read.

Any additional comments?

Ian Hanmore did a fantastic job. He managed to pull off so many Scottish accents, both male and female. I really liked the understated narrative interspersed with the character voices. I'm a professional narrator myself, so I admire great work! :) I also liked the short sentence style used by Stuart MacBride. It made for easy listening in audible format. Well done on both the story and the narration. I would highly recommend this book!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stirling Davenport
  • 20-04-19

As always, a perfect read from Stuart MacBride.

Ash Henderson is up to his eyeballs in trouble. There's no shortage of villains and mishaps. Beautifully written and enjoyably narrated by Ian Hanmore. Nobody does murder and wry humor like MacBride.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • night owl
  • 18-02-19

Horrible narration

Just started this and am disgusted with the thick avcent.Who is this guy trying to impress. These audio are for us to listen to and enjoy. Not to show off the narrators ability to use a thick accent. I lived in Eng for five years and had neighbors from the north. I had little trouble understanding them.I have no idea what is going on. Hardly understood the first chapter. McBRide is one of my favorites. But
Will not listen to this narrator again.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim
  • 30-08-18

Too Long by a Third

Superb author but this Not his best by far. Convoluted. Choose one of his other works. Any Logan McCrae novel.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim
  • 24-10-17

Without redeeming value. Take a pass!

A Song for the Dying deserves a quick death. The author appears to have collected random plot twists, tragic moral conflicts and fundamentally flawed characters and thrown them against the wall to produce a narrative which disgusts rather the enthralls the reader. Yes, I guess this could reflect real life but to structure a book around a main character that acts against his own interests and his friends without plausible rationale strains credibility beyond the story value. Perhaps the most flagrant transgression is the sheer volume of repugnant outcomes from actions (or inactions) of the main character. They appear to have been inserted for sheer shock value. There is no redeeming value to this book. Take a pass!