Friday, November 16, 2012

A Taste for the Macabre

By Russel D McLean

minor updates were made to this article on 20 Nov 2012

This evening I should have been stuffing myself silly. Instead, what I’m doing is digging some groovy painkillers and generally tripping out thanks to a wonky back muscle.

But if I wasn’t doing that I would be in the company of trained Osteopath (and crime writer) Caro Ramsay for the west coast launch of The Killer Cookbook, a fantastic new book that combines two of my favourite things in the world: cookery and crime fiction.

The cookbook finally reveals the recipe for Stuart MacBride’s infamous mushroom soup, alongside Craig Robertson’s Human Blood Pudding, and more tantalising recipes from the likes of Ian Rankin, John Gordon Sinclair, Val McDermid and so, so many more. Oh, and me and Michael Malone have a garlicky face off mid way through the book as we argue over the best recipe involving chicken and increasing cloves of garlic (Of course mine is a traditional peasant dish and therefore very very authentic, being as I look like a peasant).

But what kind of crazy fool, I hear you ask, would create a book of crime writer’s recipes? What possible reason could there be for such a thing to happen?

The answer is that the crazy fool is the aforementioned Caro Ramsay who started on the book as a way to help the brilliant Million for a Morgue Campaign; a fund raising exercise that is very close to my heart. For those who don’t know, Dundee (where I write about) is trying to raise a million quid for a centre for forensic excellence. Why Dundee? Well, Professor Sue Black works here, and she is one of those remarkably smart and dedicated at the forefront of forensic research. She has identified victims in mass graves from war torn countries, she has assisted in some amazing and terrifying investigations and between all that has found time to advise the brilliant Val McDermid on the best ways to add an air of forensic authority to those already terrifying Tony Hill thrillers.

The CAHID (Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification) is at the very heart of the morgue and has done some remarkable things including help identify victims through facial reconstruction and identifying peadophiles through images of their hands grabbed from obscene video  and images.

But what does all this have to do with the Killer Cookbook? Well, every penny from the cookbook when sold direct from the website* is going towards raising this million for the new centre for excellence. Yes, the printers and (more importantly) the contributors don’t get a penny. Everyone involved is doing this for a greater cause. And also because we really want to share these recipes with you. These are the foodstuffs that have either influenced our plots or characters or else have helped us through the sheer hard work involved in crime writing. So I urge you, please, go out and buy a copy. Help contribute to a brilliant cause and widen your taste palate at the same with fiendishly good recipes from some of the most criminal cooks on the face of the planet (and me).

*An earlier version of this post implied that copies sold from booksellers also give 100% of the cost to the cause. This is not true, but I believe a good percentage will still go to the morgue so you will still be helping the campaign - and helping your local bookseller at the same time!

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