Inspector McLean books in order
Looking for James Oswald’s Inspector McLean books in order? Never fear – we’re here to help!
James Oswald‘s gripping crime thriller series has been compared to the work of Ian Rankin, Peter James and Val McDermid. Originally a self-published author, James’s first Detective Inspector Tony McLean title, Natural Causes, was an overnight success and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Since then, he’s gone on to become one of the best authors of Tartan Noir around.
If you haven’t discovered Edinburgh’s DI McLean yet, it’s about time you did.
James Oswald’s Inspector McLean books in order:
Natural Causes by James Oswald
1. Natural Causes (2012)
A young girl’s mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago. For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority – but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death.
Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings which leave Edinburgh’s police at a loss. McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory. And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil.
The Book of Souls by James Oswald
2. The Book of Souls (2012)
Every year for ten years, a young woman’s body was found in Edinburgh at Christmas time: naked, throat slit, body washed clean. Ten years, ten women. The final victim, Kirsty Summers, was Detective Constable Tony McLean’s fiancée. But the Christmas Killer made a mistake. In a cellar under a shop, McLean found a torture chamber and put an end to the brutal killing spree.
Twelve years later, and a fellow prisoner has just murdered the incarcerated Christmas Killer. But with the arrival of the festive season comes a body. A young woman: naked, washed, her throat cut. Is this a copycat killer? Was the wrong man behind bars all this time? Or is there a more sinister, frightening explanation?
The Hangman's Song by James Oswald
3. The Hangman’s Song (2014)
A young man is found hanging by a rope in his Edinburgh home. A simple, sad suicide – but McLean is puzzled by the curious suicide note. A second hanged man and another strange note hint at a sinister pattern. The discovery of a third convinces McLean of malicious intent. Something terrifying stalks the city streets, and bringing it to justice may destroy all he holds dear.
Investigating a brutal prostitution and human trafficking ring, McLean struggles to find time to link the two suicides. But the discovery of a third convinces him of malicious intent. Digging deeper, McLean finds answers much closer to home than he expects. Something terrifying stalks the city streets, and bringing it to justice may destroy all he holds dear.
Dead Men's Bones by James Oswald
4. Dead Men’s Bones (2014)
Morag Weatherly and her two young daughters have been shot by husband Andrew, an influential politician, before he turned the gun on himself. But what would cause a rich, successful man to snap so suddenly?
For McLean, this apparently simple but high-profile case leads him into a world of power and privilege. And the deeper he digs, the more he realizes he’s being manipulated by shadowy factions. Under pressure to wrap up the case, McLean instead seeks to uncover layers of truth – putting the lives of everyone he cares about at risk.
Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald
5. Prayer For The Dead (2015)
The search for a missing journalist is called off as a body is found at the scene of a carefully staged murder. In a sealed chamber, deep in the heart of Gilmerton Cove, a mysterious network of caves and passages sprawling beneath Edinburgh, the victim has undergone a macabre ritual of purification.
McLean knew the dead man, and can’t shake off the suspicion that there is far more to this case than meets the eye. The baffling lack of forensics at the crime scene seems impossible. But it is not the only thing about this case that McLean will find beyond belief. Teamed with the most unlikely and unwelcome of allies, he must track down a killer driven by the darkest compulsions, who will answer only to a higher power.
The Damage Done by James Oswald
6. The Damage Done (2016)
When a police raid in Edinburgh goes horribly wrong, the only silver lining for McLean is a discovery that could lead to a long-lost girl from his early days on the beat. Haunted by the mystery of what happened to her, McLean begins to dig into a case he thought long buried. But the shadows of the past are soon eclipsed by crimes in the present as a series of strange and gruesome deaths shock the city.
As McLean’s investigation draws him ever deeper into the upper echelons of Edinburgh society, it will not only be his career on the line – but his life as well.
Written in Bones by James Oswald
7. Written in Bones (2017)
A body is found in a tree in the Meadows, Edinburgh’s beautiful public park. The forensics suggest that the corpse has fallen from a height – but was it an accident or a shocking message? The dead man had led quite a life – a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin and, most recently, the head of a celebrated charity.
As McLean investigates, his search takes him from the city’s underworld – crossing paths with some of the most dangerous and the most vulnerable people in society – before taking him to the heart of a shadowy conspiracy stretching back years.
The Gathering Dark by James Oswald
8. The Gathering Dark (2018)
A truck driver loses control in central Edinburgh, ploughing into a crowded bus stop and spilling his vehicle’s toxic load. The consequences are devastating.
DI Tony McLean witnesses the carnage. Taking control of the investigation, he soon realises there is much that is deeply amiss – and everyone involved seems to have something to hide.
But as McLean struggles to uncover who caused the tragedy, a second crisis develops: the new Chief Superintendent’s son is missing, last seen in the area of the crash…
Cold as the Grave by James Oswald
9. Cold as the Grave (2019)
Her lifeless body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. A room which feels as cold as the grave.
As a rowdy demonstration makes its slow and vocal way along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Detective Chief Inspector Tony McLean’s team are on stand-by for any trouble. The newly promoted McLean is distracted, inexplicably drawn to a dead-end mews street… and a door, slightly ajar, which leads to this poor girl’s final resting place.
But how long has she been there, in her sleep of death? The answers are far from what McLean or anyone else could expect. The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case…
Bury Them Deep by James Oswald
10. Bury Them Deep (2020)
When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate… and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.
Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation – one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. Is Anya Renfrew’s disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case?
McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn’t the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here…
What Will Burn by James Oswald
11. What Will Burn (2021)
The charred remains of an elderly woman are discovered in a burned-out game-keepers cottage, hidden away in woodland to the west of Edinburgh. Clearly no accidental fire, Detective Inspector Tony McLean suspects that neither is this simply a grim arson attack. There is far more to the victim than her humble surroundings might suggest, and something ritualistic to her horrific murder.
Nor will it be the only case of death by fire that Tony and his team will be faced with. This is only the beginning, and with such evil clouding the air, Tony begins to wonder what else will burn…