***** 5 STARS
When Mark is invited back to Leila’s flat and ordered to strip, he thinks he’s about to have the experience of his life. Waking later he finds Leila gone from his side. Keen to leave, he opens the wrong door and finds he’s entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with. Rhona Macleod’s forensic investigation of the scene reveals the red plaited silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artefact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine powerful men, but who are they? As the investigation continues, it looks increasingly likely that other witches will be targeted to. Working the investigation is the newly demoted DS Michael McNab, who is keen to stay sober and redeem himself with Rhona, but an encounter with Leila’s colleague and fellow Wiccan Freya Devine threatens his resolve. Soon McNab realizes Freya may hold the key to identifying the men linked to the dolls, but the Nine will do anything to keep their identities a secret.
In the Special Dead, Lin Anderson tenth novel to feature forensic investigator Rhona Macleod has you hooked right from the first page and all the way through to the final chapter and this is because Lin Anderson knows how to mix the grizzly and the gruesome with high paced action, interesting characters, believable storylines and a understanding of what makes a good story. This is seen in the Special Dead, where Mark Howitt, son of a local QC, finds himself in a horrific situation when he picks up a red-haired girl on a night out, he is just looking for easy sex, but having a cat jump on your back as well as being tied to your new lover by a red cord isn’t most people’s idea of a normal hook-up. And when he wakes up the next morning to find a bunch of creepy Barbie dolls in the next room suspended over the corpse of the girl you slept with. Afraid of what people will think, he leaves the scene, hoping he can deny any knowledge of ever having been there. He’s not guilty, but he knows that he’ll look it if anyone realises what he was up to. Rhona and McNab are called in to work this weird case and put aside their differences and work together to bring the killer to justice.
What it is also evident in any Lin Anderson novel is that she researchers the subjects that she is writing about really well and this is what i think makes her novels so realistic and very popular. In the Special Dead it is very evident that a lot of time has went into finding out about the Wiccan traditions and practises and their long history in Scotland,this is also the same about the way in which Lin Anderson writes about the work of a forensic scientist and the police force and making it read easily for a person with no knowledge of these fields of work but also able to to do these jobs justice and present them well. The city of Glasgow is also treated in the same manner and becomes not just a backdrop from the action to take place, but instead becomes a main focus and character like Rhona, Chrissy, Bill and Michael are, her characters are also believable and you feel yourself celebrating their success, upset when their down and scared when they are in a dangerous situation, this is what makes these novels unique, you can see how each individual stand of the book is woven and how it all works together to produce a novel that takes you on a journey of relationships, emotions, leaning and excitement. After ten Rhona Macleod novels that have captured our imagination and entertained us, it will be interesting to see what happens next in the series and how the characters are taken forward.
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (13 Aug. 2015)