The Damage Done & The Burning by James Oswald (DI McLean: Book 6)

Posted on Apr 5, 2020


The Storyline

The Damage Done by James Oswald – picture courtesy of

A bungled raid on a suspected brothel, and a suspicious death, sends Detective Inspector Tony McLean down a path of conspiracy and cover-ups, fighting superiors and shadowy figures along the way, even getting help from surprising quarters…

And then there is the mysterious woman, whom McLean is sure he has met before, but where? And is this all linked to a past case when he was a beat cop many years before?

These two seemingly unconnected cases will test him and his loyal, but broken-up team once again, and go to places he hadn’t even thought of, pushing them all to their limits.

The Review

Yet another solid story from James Oswald in the Mclean series of crime thrillers with a supernatural tint to them, set in The Athens of the North, Edinburgh.

I first read this when it came out in paperback, but due to an upheaval in life and subsequent move to Scotland, I neglected my website, books to read and review, and much more besides. Because of Covid-19, I have had the time to get back to what I love best, and that is write about anything, and everything I love.

The thing I like about these books is that Tony, as the central character and hero, often plods along in life, generally keeping to himself, unless work calls, which it always does, or his friends, which they do; when all he wants is just to go home and switch off. His mind though, ever thinking, never lets him rest, and his sense of duty to friends, family and strangers, even to his job, never lets him be. He is an honourable character who deserves some good in his life, but rarely gets it.

I always love the feel of these books, and the areas where they take the reader. I especially like the little nuggets of history, myths and legends in them, when they present themselves. There’s always something to keep you hooked, chapter after chapter.

The way he deals with multiple cases, as well as other aspects of his life, would test the best of us, but McLean somehow manages to get through it.

As for his way with the women, well, he’s not like other heroes who jump into bed with every woman in sight. He’s a gentleman, albeit a lonely one at times, who believes in doing the right thing, even at his own cost. In this one though, he seems to have his choices if he wants, but hankers after someone from his past.

These are always brilliant books to read if you like detective fiction and I highly recommend them, and if you are old enough to remember 70s British TV show The Sweeney, then you’ll know that the hero never always gets their villain; something I like in a story, that happens sometimes in McLean’s world.

You shan’t regret reading these books.

The Burning (a short story)

The Storyline

A husband and wife report their daughter, Jenny, missing, and DI McLean is sent to find her at the behest of his boss, Detective Superintendent McIntyre.

This though, will be anything but straightforward for McLean and his team, as he searches for the missing fifteen year old girl, and the tragic events that follow.

The Review

This short story is at the end of The Damage Done (Sainsbury’s copy) and is set around the time of the first two books as Jayne MacIntyre is still his superior.

It follows her asking him to help an old friend find her daughter, but as ever with McLean nothing is ever easy.

Unlike the others in the series, this has no supernatural elements in it, and is just a straight forward crime story.

Grumpy Bob and McBride are in it, although the latter is just a DC still, whilst the former is still active in the field, so it’s set around the time of the first book, possibly before? Cadwalleder, the pathologist, turns up briefly too. He’s one of my favourite characters that I’d love to see more of in some way, other than his police work.

The pace is very well written, the questions hanging as to what has happened to young Jenny, and as you turn the pages, the revelations hit you fast.

I’d love a short story in every McLean book. They’re like eating your favourite biscuits, but have a different taste.

The ending could have turned out in a variety of ways, but how it did turn out, was the only way really that it could go. If you can get a copy, I definitely recommend it.

As ever, support your local library, and please buy from book shops, especially independent ones if you can, otherwise this is available from all good retailers everywhere.

Buy, Read and Enjoy

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