Birthdays For the Dead by Stuart MacBride(5 out of 5).

The year 2013 has started well- with some great books. This one- right off the bat- is going to be one of the best I’ve read in the last two years. I like those psychological creepy novels once in a while. This one- wow. Just wow. 

Constable Ash Henderson hasn’t had a good couple of years. Getting demoted to Constable after dropping the ball on the beginning of the violent “Birthday Boy” case. His marriage breaking up after his wife busted him cheating with a stripper. Watching his wife then move into an abusive relationship that also affects Katie, their youngest. But worse than anything else Ash has EVER had to go through- the disappearance of his oldest daughter Rebecca. Secrets on top of secrets on top of secrets. 

The “Birthday Boy” has kidnapped 12 girls, all on the precipice of turning age 13, and slowly tortures them to death. Every year he sends their parents another gruesome birthday card charting what has been done to them. Bodies begin piling up, the police and media are rampaging like hungry wolves, and fingers are pointing everywhere- including at Ash, for not finding an answer. There’s one very small detail that Ash has told NO one. For five years, he’s been receiving birthday cards of Rebecca from the Birthday Boy. Which means Rebecca is either dead and her body hasn’t been found, but he cannot say a word or he’ll get kicked off the investigation permanently, which means she the killer will never be found or the bodies of the kidnapped girls.(Or so Ash believes). He stands by while his ex and friends on the force mention Rebecca up and running away, never saying a word or implicating himself. Just when things can’t get any more stressful, he’s assigned a new “partner”, the quirky and very odd, borderline alcoholic Dr. Alice MacDonald. Together, they build an unlikely friendship and work to figure out clues and who the killer is.

There’s no sugarcoating this. This book is disturbing on a number of levels. It is also unapologetically gruesome. You need it to, for the plot and subsequent behaviors and revelations to work. There’s no dancing around and no pretty talk here. It gets a hell lot worse, though, when Ash’s dogged determination and blindfold parenting tactics lead to Katie running away to stay at a boy’s house. Not so bad- until they realize she’s not there and she’s now missing also. The clock is ticking on Ash, and he needs to figure out who’s the Birthday Boy and how to bust the case wide open, on top of now finding his second missing daughter, all the while not managing to mention that he’s known for five years that his own daughter is one of the victims. You sometimes look at Ash as a selfish, idiotic man. I see him as a human being, crushed by his daughter’s death and his inability to catch the killer before all these other girls are also murdered. Do they find Rebecca’s body? Does the truth come out? Does Ash self-destruct before the killer is caught? Is the killer caught, or does he continue to roam free? 

I honestly could not put this book down. I could NOT get over the end. I had to re-read the end three times, to get it through my head. Two days later and the end is still messing with my head. Human nature and violence, unbelievable. The identity of the killer- when revealed- unbelievable. I had no idea of any of this coming. Another reason I loved this book. It’s not out until 2/29/2013, but put it on your list of things to read. You won’t regret it!

~ by generationgbooks on January 12, 2013.

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