Natural Causes by James Oswald


Natural Causes by James Oswald

30th December 2020.

Having recently read and enjoyed an advance reader copy of Bury Them Deep, (check out my review here) I thought it was time to start at the beginning of the DI McLean series. And what a start it is.

Natural Causes is a dark and complex police procedural with a supernatural element. It centres around a sixty year old case of a teenage girl who was repeatedly raped and tortured in a ritual killing. The body, safely hidden inside a building, has been discovered during building works.

As DI McLean starts to investigate this terrible murder, he’s dragged into another murder in another part of Edinburgh. The investigation is led by his boss and it’s clear they don’t see eye to eye at all. More murders follow, some seeming to have no rational. With a steadily increasing body count, DI McLean has to work out the connections to identify the killer.

The plot is too complex and involved to explain without spoilers, but it’s ingenious, baffling and intriguing at the same time, making this novel hard to put down. The characters are well drawn and believable, the relationships tight and realistic, and the writing builds the suspense and tension to an exciting climax.

It’s an outstanding first book in a series. The supernatural elements make it different from the standard police procedural but compelling too. It’s a terrific read and one I would recommend to anyone who likes a complex murder mystery that’s as much about the characters as the plot.


Edinburgh is horrified by a series of bloody killings.

Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave the city’s police stumped.

DI Tony McLean is focused on the investigation, but his attention is drawn by a chilling cold case:

A young girl, ritualistically murdered.

Her remains hidden for sixty years.

It seems impossible that there could be any connection between the cases, but McLean starts to wonder . . .

Because if it’s true, they might be facing an evil beyond anything they ever imagined.

Natural Causes by James Oswald

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