Book Review – Written in Bones by James Oswald

wibTitle: Written in Bones

Author: James Oswald

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication Date: 23rd February 2017

Format: ARC e-book

Note: This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review

About the book:

The roots of murder run deep…

When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.

And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city…

What I Thought:

Throughout the Inspector McLean series James Oswald had managed to combine crime fiction with the supernatural. For some this may not work, for me James Oswald manages to hit that sweet spot, he adds something a little extra to the plot but without taking it so far that someone who isn’t really interested in the supernatural would be put off. For me Written in Bones is no different. Written in Bones begins with a body stuck in a tree, it soon becomes apparent that the body has been dropped into the tree and once again Detective Inspector McLean has managed to end up stuck in the middle of a strange investigation. During the course of the novel it soon becomes clear that there’s more to the investigation than was first thought, and the body in the tree is actually linked to an unsolved case none of the senior team are keen to see reopened.

James Oswald has always had interesting plots, and a great mixture of darkness and light. The description of the crime scenes can be quite gory, but there has always been a great injection of humour. Written In Bones is no different, the novel kept me turning pages (virtually at least) far into the night, eager to get to the conclusion and chuckling along the way. That said the real draw of the Inspector McLean series for me has always been the characters.

Written In Bones sees the return of fabulous Detective Inspector Anthony McLean. McLean always finds himself in the middle of a strange investigation. Financially secure he has no interest in playing politics and his determined to see the investigation through to its true conclusion, often to the annoyance of his senior officers. McLean is accompanied once again by his usual supporting cast; Grumpy Bob, DCI McIntyre, Charles Duiguid and Emma Baird amongst others all return. The reality of staffing levels of Police Scotland is reflected with the introduction of a few new characters as three uniformed officers take the step up to acting DC. None of them are bad characters, however DC Harrison seems the most developed of the three and I hope that she will be sticking around into the next book.

Written In Bones is the seventh book in the series; whenever a book comes out that is part of a series that I’ve not yet started I wonder if my enjoyment of the novel is going to be lessened by having not read the preceding books, that potentially I will be put off the entire series because I’ve not read the books in order. Initially I didn’t read the McLean books in order, I started with the audiobook of Dead Men’s Bones which is the fourth book in the series. I enjoyed it enough that I went back and brought Natural Causes and read the series in order, I certainly think I enjoyed Dead Men’s Bones even more on the second reading because I had the back story of the characters. It’s definitely possible to read Written In Bones as a stand alone novel, and I think you would appreciate the plot. I would however recommend reading the series from the beginning to truly appreciate and enjoy the book. Throughout the series James Oswald has built on the relationships between the characters and this continues within Written In Bones. The story also sees the return of a character from a previous book who plays a key part in the plot. You will still understand the conclusion without having read the previous book but understanding the history of the character will definitely add something to your reading of the book. For those who have followed Tony from the first book there’s definitely a development that will make you smile towards the end.

Would I Recommend it?

Without a doubt. In Natural Causes James Oswald introduced a great cast of characters and a fantastic concept. Seven books in he is still going strong. If you’re already a fan of James Oswald and Tony McLean Written In Bones will not disappoint. If you’re new to James Oswald grab a copy of Natural Causes and start at the beginning to get the most out of it.

Other books in the Inspector McLean series – Via Goodreads

5 Stars

Once you’ve read it please come back and let me know what you thought!



  1. I really want to try this series! It sounds so good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it. Off to the launch event for this one in Edinburgh on Thursday


  2. The supernatural element would put me off a bit, but on the other hand I always like crime books that have a bit of humour in them. Hmm… may have to try this series… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natural Causes is the first in the series. Would definitely recommend it. The audiobook is great too, that’s how I got into the series, Ian Hanmore narrates them and he’s brilliant. I’ve already preordered the audiobook of this even though I’ve already read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] The second is from Written in Bones by James Oswald. The latest in the Inspector McLean series that is published on Thursday. You can find my review here. […]


  4. This one sounds fab too! Adds to list! Thanks for linking up to the British Books Challenge x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Book Review – Written in Bones // This or That […]


  6. […] Written In Bones by James Oswald […]


  7. […] about the Inspector McLean series you can find all the titles on the Goodreads series page – Written In Bones also happens to be one of the first books I reviewed on the blog last […]


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