Living Death (DS Katie Macguire #7), by Graham Masterton

Eight stars

Graham Masterton has held my complete attention with his DS Katie Macguire series this summer, well worth the bingeing I have been doing. Masterton impresses with this Irish police procedural collection, with crimes as chilling and graphic as I have ever experienced in a piece of fiction. There’s strong narrative flow and characters who build off one another throughout the series. Masterton never ceases to amaze with the ideas he uses in the books and finds wonderful ways to captivate the reader.

Personal matters continue to plague Detective Sergeant Katie Macguire, who does her best to carry on from one day to the next. Criminal goings-on in Cork seem to be at an all-time high, which means DS Macguire and her team are constantly pressed into action. After numerous dogs are taken from a rural facility, the confrontation leaves one of the criminals dead and the owner in a heap of trouble, as self-defence is not a foregone conclusion. DS Macguire focuses her attention on this case, as it seems to have some additional threads that could lead to something larger.

All the while, a young woman goes missing outside a club and no one has any clue what’s happened. Truth be told, she has been kidnapped by a ruthless group, who perform odd and gruesome tests on her, leaving her permanently maimed and paralysed. After another man is found to have undergone similar mutilations, DS Macguire cannot help but step in to aid in that search as well.

If that were not enough, a family member of a local criminal gang comes forward to speak anonymously with DS Macguire about a crime she is aware of, hoping that it will help bring her family to justice and keep her out of the limelight from all the accusations. Juggling all this and the newly homebound John, her former lover and fresh from his amputation injuries, DS Macguire has to keep things on the straight and narrow, while her romantic life heats up once more! Another busy thriller that proves Masterton’s abilities, complete with a cliffhanger.

Just when I am sure that Graham Masterton has shown me everything he has to offer, he pens a new and exciting piece that offers new pathways to successful storytelling. Masterton pulls the reader in, while keeping them on their toes with gruesome acts of barbarity, all wrapped into an Irish police procedural that builds as the series progresses. I remain amazed at the hard work the stories appear to show and how Masterton provides countless new and exciting twists to keep things from getting stagnant.

Masterton is a master storyteller and proves it throughout this series. Clear narrative direction gives the reader a path to follow as the series cements itself with depth and complexity. Strong character development that builds from novel to novel helps to offer something the reader can enjoy as they ‘check in’ on a handful of recurring characters, all of whom have a story of their own. While she does work hard, the development of DS Katie Macguire is most prominent in her personal life, which Masterton has perfected throughout these novels, offering drama and some tense moments of indecision. Masterton offers plot twists cliffhangers to keep the reader coming back, which has worked effectively for me. Peppered with Irish idioms, I am learning to speak the local slang and happy to forge onwards to see what else is to come with these chilling stories.

Kudos, Mr. Masterton, for yet another winner!