Dead Men’s Bones by James Oswald

Dead Men's BonesSynopsis: A family lies slaughtered in an isolated house in North East Fife…

Morag Weatherly and her two young daughters have been shot by husband Andrew, an influential politician, before he turned the gun on himself.

But what would cause a rich, successful man to snap so suddenly?

For Inspector Tony McLean, this apparently simple but high-profile case leads him into a world of power and privilege. And the deeper he digs, the more he realises he’s being manipulated by shadowy factions.

Under pressure to wrap up the case, McLean instead seeks to uncover layers of truth – putting the lives of everyone he cares about at risk…

3 stars from me

I’ve gone and done that daft thing of reading a new author but not from the start of the series. Dead Men’s Bones is actually the fourth in the Inspector McLean books; I wouldn’t ordinarily have done this but the book was given to me as a gift so it seemed churlish not to read it anyway!

Only 3 stars for a couple of reasons:

1. Unless I missed it… the book doesn’t explain the cause of the burned lips. I won’t say any more as I always endeavour to avoid spoilers, however I felt this was mentioned sufficiently that it required explanation. If you read it and find the answer, do let me know!

2. Something just didn’t quite gel with all the elements of the story. Maybe it’s because I’ve thrown caution to the wind and jumped in at book 4, or maybe something just doesn’t quite gel with the story! I felt like it was almost there but not quite, things didn’t quite pull together enough and, for me, the reason for Weatherly’s actions wasn’t quite sufficient. Yes, I could see why it would cause him to take his own life rather than face the music, but not why it would necessitate the demise of his family.

Other than the above, I liked the character of Tony McLean, I liked most of his colleagues, some were a little weak and some a little irrelevant but that may again be from reading the books out of order. Any tough main character who keeps a cat is always going to be a winner with me.

I’m more than happy to give Oswald another chance and have ordered book 1.

There is a blatant nod to Stuart MacBride in the book and I can’t decide if I liked it or found it cringey – I wonder what Mr MacBride himself thought to it?

One final thought, shouldn’t it be Dead Mens’ Bones rather than Dead Men’s Bones? Or does that just stir up the whole Father’s Day/Fathers’ Day, Valentine’s Day/Valentines’ Day debacle?





  1. Thanks for the honest review. I’ve had a few people ask about the burned lips, so I’ve clearly made it too obtuse. It’s all to do with being kissed by someone (but no spoilers!) There was a very direct explanation but it got cut in a rewrite, leaving it open to interpretation.

    As to DC MacBride, Stuart and I have been friends for over twenty years, long before either of us were published. He put me in a couple of his books, and encouraged me to try my hand at writing crime fiction when my fantasy and SF was languishing unread and unpublished. I have asked him, and he’s OK with his name being abused, (although he did warn me that I’d be constantly asked about it). Of course having him named in the book means he can’t really give me a cover quote, so I rather shot myself in the foot there!

    I hope you enjoy Natural Causes.

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