Prayer for the Dead (DI McLean book 5) by James Oswald book review

Posted on Mar 23, 2020



Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald

Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald

The fifth in the DI Tony McLean series by James Oswald, this story starts when a man is kidnapped and seemingly offered up for a sacrifice in Gilmerton Cove, a series of passageways and chambers long associated with the Covenanters as a refuge, and also a smugglers’ lair. It’s also linked to the supernatural and cults, especially the infamous Hellfire Club; and soon McLean is on the hunt for a serial killer he is unsure of how to catch.

He finds himself up against conspiracy theories, paranoia, and far worse. He even teams up with one of his foils, the reporter Dagliesh to help find her missing colleague, whilst dealing with those of his who’d like nothing better than to see the back of him.


I read this a while back and have only just found the time to review it. A lot has happened since I read this, but it’s better late than never.

So, to the review. Once again James has pulled off another corker with Prayer for the Dead, so much so that I quickly went out and bought the next in the series called The Damage Done, reading it not long afterwards (review to follow this one as currently re-reading it).

As always the general characters are tight and believable, especially D.I. Tony McLean, a man you would like but not want to stay around for too long as people keep dying around him. He lives a confusing life I think and sometimes does not help himself, being a complex person with much on his mind and yet he would be happy just to go for a drink and forget everything if he could. He is someone we all know in some way or another.

I love the way everything eventually falls into place for him, but does not always work out in the way he would have liked and how he avoids promotion because it is not his thing, preferring to do the real work and not get involved in the politics of the job, a little like me in that respect. His supporting cast of Grumpy Bob and McBride, are the glue that keeps him together, wonderful characters not out of place in the real world.

As for the city itself and the details, as a resident now, I find myself nodding at certain things, going, “McLean goes there.” “There was a murder there in that last book.” I have been meaning to go to Gilmerton Cove, but have not had the chance yet, and shall do once Covid-19 takes flight.

I feel I have been with this character from the beginning and it is now like meeting an old friend when a nice and shiny new publication comes out. There is a lot of life left in McLean, his adventures in Edinburgh many yet to come and long may he be here for us to read and enjoy.

Available online from all retailers that sell books but please try to support your local bookshop and library.

Buy, Read, Enjoy, and immerse yourself in other worlds!

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