The Gathering Dark is the eighth Inspector McLean novel in James Oswald’s series, one of Auntie M’s favorites, with another strong entry in the series that does not disappoint.

The UK’s The Guardian says about the author: “Oswald easily outstrips the formulaic work of bigger names,” with good reason. If Oswald isn’t on your reading list yet, he should be.

DI Tony McLean happens to be on scene at the junction of the Lothian Road and the Western Approach Road when a truck traveling far too fast jacknifes and overturns, the cab smashing into a crowded bus stop, bodies falling, people screaming and running as the trailer falls and splits open, spilling thousands of gallons of some kind of toxic chemical onto the street and over pedestrians.

The noxious chemicals give McLean a headache he’ll have for days, and his suit is ruined after he plunges in to help triage the victims. The carnage is profuse and the end result is 20 dead, including the driver, and another 50 injured.

Heading the investigation, McLean brings home the toxic fumes to Emma, the forensic specialist he lives with who is carrying their baby. A second suit will be ruined and in the garbage as the investigation continues, throwing up all sorts of questions and secrets as the dead need to be identified.

There are several businesses in the chain of the removal trailer to be investigated, which was supposed to be carrying nontoxic digestate, which is indeed found in several of the trailer’s compartments, but the rest had been filled with the toxic substance that clings to McLean’s senses.

The complex plot twists and turns around the investigation, with tangents running in several directions and McLean keeping his finger involved in all of them.

With a sparse team to help him, and discretion needed, he even will call in an old foe to assist him when the Chief Superintendent’s son goes missing and was last seen near the crash site. Could he be one of the unidentified bodies?

Able to twine McLean’s personal life into the fabric of his investigations, the detective will soon learn the not everything is as it seems, and that decades-old secrets are a small part of the big picture.

With his trademark curve of the supernatural making its appearance, this is pure Oswald at the height of his game. Highly recommended.

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