Tag Archives: stuart macbride

I Love A Man With A Dirty Mouth: Stuart MacBride

Okay, everybody who knows me will be tremendously surprised, but I have a quirk. I know. Who’d have thought it, right? I have a deep and endless fondness for cursing. I’m not a potty mouth myself. I say, “shit,” more than I should and occasionally drop the F-bomb, but for the most part I’m PG. Not because I have clean thoughts and certainly not because I don’t want to use salty language. I’m just not good at it. Inventive, imaginative, effective cursing is an artform. A talent. Maybe good cussers are born that way. Come popping out of the womb blistering the air blue and shocking the doctor into dropping them on their heads, giving them all the more reason to cuss.

That little quirk of mine accounts for part of the reason I love Stuart MacBride’s books.

The main reason is his characters, namely Logan McRae and DI Steel. Set in Aberdeen, Scotland, the series follows Logan as he solves crimes and takes crap. A lot of crap. Logan is a brilliant detective and a very good police officer. He doesn’t seem to know it. With the exception of DI Steel, nobody else seems to know it either. Logan is tough, clever, dogged and courageous. He’s the best on the force and he’s abused for it. That’s from his fellow police officers and superiors. He gets it even worse from the criminals. Throughout the series, Logan has been stabbed, pummeled, tossed, run over and wonked in the head so often it’s surprising he doesn’t have a TBI. Sometimes while reading I want to shout at MacBride, “Come on! Give that poor boy a break!” In Dark Blood, the novel I just finished, poor Logan has to deal with something worse than physical pain. He has to deal with disappointment and disillusionment. When Beardy Beattie, an idiot, is promoted to Detective Inspector over Logan, Logan is crushed. Poor guy thought merit counted for something. Welcome to the real world.

Then we have DI Steel. She’s homely, strange, outrageous, mean, insensitive and a little bit nuts. She’ll say anything to anyone at any time. She’s also the best cop on the force and the only one who understands and appreciates Logan. Not that he always appreciates her. Most of the time he’s at least a little afraid of her. She drives him crazy. He loves her a little bit, too.

DI Steel always gets the best lines:

She stuck a cigarette between her teeth and lit it, blowing out a mouthful of smoke that oozed across the windscreen. “Beattie’s a moron.”

Unbelievable. “How come when I say he’s an idiot I’ve got an attitude problem, but when you say it–”

Steel smacked the back of her hand against his chest. “Shhhh!”

“No. It’s one bloody rule for–”

She hit him again. “Down there, you twit.” She pointed through the snow at the main road, where a large Transit van was turning onto the farm track, bouncing and rolling along the icy, rutted surface. Steel fumbled with the handset again. “All teams, hold position. We’ve got visitors.”

“Sodding hell. I’m up to my tits in a snowdrift here.”

“I don’t care if you’re up to your tits in shark-infested tampons: keep your gob shut and your arse where it is!”

Or this bit:

“You’re a big, sodding, wet, Jessie bastard, you know that, don’t you?” Steel stomped to a halt at the Fiat’s rusty passenger door. “Couldn’t throw your weight around for two bloody minutes!”

“Did you see the size of him?” Logan stopped behind her, both hands held up like a surgeon, waiting for a nurse to glove him up. “He’d have torn my head off and crapped down the stump. Anyway, he knew we were police.”

“You’re such a girl.” She nodded her head at the car. “Well? Unlock the sodding thing: bloody freezing.”

Logan stuck one hip out. “Keys are in my front trouser pocket.”

She glanced down. “So?”

“You’re going to have to drive.”

Her top lip curled. “Aye, that’ll be shining. Detective Inspector, mind? You drive, I… passenge.”

“Can’t. Did the hostage trick when I shook hands with Baldy Andy. You need to bag my hands till we get back to the station.”

Steel took another look at his trousers. “I’m no’ going digging about in your breeks, what if you get a stiffy?”

“Just… don’t flatter yourself, okay?”

Funny as those bits are, the Logan MacRae novels are very dark, very violent. No punches pulled when it comes to the vicious crimes or the heartrending aftermaths the victims have to endure. So dark and violent, in fact, I doubt they’d be bearable without all the humor. MacBride is very funny. His characters are all memorable: DC Rennie, who I can’t stop picturing as Howdy Doody; Biohazard Bob, a man you do not want to be stuck with in a closed room (cauliflower chips? I don’t know what those are, but you don’t want Biohazard Bob eating them); Colin the journalist; Samantha, Logan’s goth girlfriend; and many many more.

If crime fiction is your thing, read Stuart MacBride.  If you share my fondness for inventive language and dirty talk, read his books twice. You’ll love them.

Dark Blood, by Stuart MacBride available at Amazon.



Funny Guys: Christopher Moore and … Stuart MacBride?

I am a humor ho’. I love funny people. Make me laugh and I can forgive a cartload of sins and failings. If a writer is funny, well, I’ll probably end up a fan for life.

Like this, which is to me one of the funniest passages I’ve ever read:

“Get it over with. Go ahead.” Charlie stretched his neck as if offering his throat to be cut– his strategy was to lure his captor into range, then sever the tall man’s femoral artery with his teeth, then gloat as the blood coursed all over his mint-green slacks onto the floor. Charlie would laugh long and sinister as he watched the life drain out of the evil bastard, then he would hop his chair out to the street and onto the streetcar at Market, transfer to the number forty-one bus at Van Ness, hop off at Columbus, and hop the two blocks home, where someone would untie him. He had a plan– and a bus pass with four more days left on it– so this son of a bitch had picked the wrong guy to fuck with.

from A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore

(don’t “look inside” click here)

Funny as that bit is by itself, it’s even funnier in context. Charlie is the pitch-perfect depiction of a Beta Male who is earnestly awkward and clueless about his skewed vision of the world. The thing is, Charlie doesn’t know he’s funny. He wouldn’t know how to tell a joke, much less crack wise.

Even typing that out for you has made me want to read the book again (for about the tenth time, yet another of my treasures turned into a raggedy specimen)

Christopher Moore is a funny, funny writer. He’s known for his humor. Many of the writers I find funny aren’t considered humorous writers. They just are.

Take Stuart MacBride, for instance. He’s a Scot who writes a mystery series featuring Logan MacRae. Logan is a policeman on the Grampian force. He’s brilliant, dogged, and he always gets his man. He’s surrounded by lunatics. It’s a miracle at times that Logan can survive the station house much less the dangerous criminals on the street. The novels are dark, gritty, violent. Some of the crimes depicted are heart breaking. MacBride doesn’t pull any punches or gloss over the ugliness. At the same time, the books are so funny the Old Man groans when I sit down in the evening with a new MacBride novel. Because he knows that every five minutes or so I’ll be saying, “Mute the TV, honey. You have to hear this.”

Like this little gem with DI Steel (who has the most inventively profane mouth I’ve ever encountered. I am in awe)

“Exactly. And while he’s off on the sick, who do you think gets lumbered with his caseload? Muggins. Like I don’t have enough on my plate.” Steel puffed out her cheeks and slumped even further. “I’m knackered the whole time; Jasmine won’t stop screaming; Susan’s nerves are in tatters so she’s getting on mine; nobody’s sleeping…” Sigh. “Don’t get me wrong: Jasmine’s a wee darling, but Jesus. Now I know why some animals eat their young.”

Logan yawned again. “At least you didn’t get dragged out of your bed after an hour, by a grumpy–“

“Oh boo bloody hoo. For your own good, remember?” The inspector polished off the last of her buttie, swilling it down with another mouthful of coffee. “Dying for a shag, too. Bloody Susan’s still no’ up for it– they had to stitch her bits back together, and you know it’s–“

Logan held up a hand. “I’m eating.”

“–like a donor kebab…”

from Shatter the Bones, by Stuart MacBride

Or this bit, again with the lovely Steel:

Steel paused beside a CID pool car with ‘DIRTY PIGGY BASTARDS!!!’ spray-painted in dripping letters along the side, and produced a little plastic stick coloured to look like a cigarette. She stuck it in her mouth and tried for a puff. Then pulled the thing out and squinted at it. Had another go, sooking her cheeks hollow.

“Sodding bugger-monkeys…” She thrust the fake cigarette at Logan. “You– man– fix.”

Logan watched DCI Finnie storm through the back doors into FQH, Superintendent Green flowing along behind him. Like a cat in a reasonably-priced suit.

“When the press finds out Jenny’s dead, we’re screwed. They’ll–“

“Fix it, fix it, fix it!”

also from Shatter the Bones, by Stuart MacBride

(see the book, click here)

I don’t know if MacBride sets out to be intentionally funny or if he’d be insulted to know I think he’s one of the most humorous writers around. The thing is, his stories are so dark and violent, I don’t know if they’d be bearable without the crazy cast of characters and the funny dialogue.

Many of the writers I consider funny haven’t been pigeon-holed as humor writers. Most are like MacBride, writing one thing for one effect, but including some passages that nearly have me peeing my pants.

S. G. Browne: Breathers: A Zombie Lament has a zombie protesting for civil rights.

Larry Doyle: Go, Mutants! is a homage to B movies and teen angst.

Andrew Fox: Fat, White Vampire Blues and the even funnier, Bride of the Fat, White Vampire

William Goldman: The Princess Bride is the best read out loud novel ever!

Charlie Huston: the Joe Pitt Casebooks one of my favorite vampires.

Richard Kadrey: Sandman Slim who ever thought a decapitated head could be funny? Try this.

A. Lee Martinez: everything he writes is funny, but my fave funny? In The Company of Ogres

Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club is sick and twisted funny

Thomas Pynchon: gonzo detective fiction is always funny, but Inherent Vice is the funniest.

So what about the rest of you? Anyone else in love with funny fiction? Who are your faves?

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