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Inspector McLean books in order

Looking for James Oswald’s Inspector Tony 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.

Inspector McLean books in order:

Natural Causes by James Oswald

Natural Causes

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

The Book of Souls

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

The Hangman’s Song

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

Dead Men’s Bones

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

Prayer For The Dead

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

The Damage Done

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

Written in Bones

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

The Gathering Dark

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…

Have you read any of James’s Inspector McLean books? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!


    I’m a big fan of Oswald’s from over here in Canada. My sole complaint is that none of his last 4 McLean novels are available in North America…even in e-book form!! Whoever his publisher is, they’re doing a poor job of building his name in the biggest English language market in the world.
    More McLean on this side of the pond, please!

    what ever became of our hero’s bequest from his (crooked, evil) lawyer in Mr. Oswald’s wonderful first book? I can not see a trace of it in his other books.

    Just reading Natural Causes. Got to admit I had never heard of James Oswald before today. It’s a really fantastic read and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

    I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed all the novels up to and including Prayer for the Dead. The last 3 aren’t available in Canada for some reason. I emailed Mr Oswald and he was kind enough to reply and let me know that it is down to his publishers. So get your butts in gear publishers! I’m sure I’m not the only Canadian who loves these books!

    I love the series, it’s just so interesting following up the whole story of Detective McClean.

    I love the series of books. Unfortunately I read Written In Bones on holiday in August and when I got back looked up James Oswald and realised I’d read the 7th book in the series which was fantastic. An excellent read from front to back but gaps in places obviously where it was the 7th book that I couldn’t figure out. So I hunted and found the other 6. I started at the beginning and now I’m just about to start number 5 Prayer for the Dead. I haven’t read for years but this series gripped me and i love the way James Oswald writes. To say it’s got me back in to reading is an understatement to say the least. Now I see there are 3 more books to the series and I’m over the moon. Keep them coming is all I can say. Hopefully my kids might get me the 3 new ones for Christmas. Highly recommended read, whatever you enjoy reading you’ll enjoy James Oswald and especially inspector Anthony McLean. Thanks D Robertson

    Easy reading, but can’t put can’t put them down

    This is a fascinating well written series. I want more!!!grant

    Normally detective books are not my scene but I found a copy of Natural Causes in a charity shop and decided to try it. Well, I was absolutely hooked and now have most of them. Beautifully written and absolutely gripping. Have they ever been made into a Drama series, as David Tennant would be perfect as Tony McLean or have I missed something major and where can I find it?

    I like all of them they are well written and well read in audible. The sub plots of the love lives of friendship groups is a welcome normaliser. Thabk God for some competent police officers not just looking at the budget!

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