Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Laidlaw – William McIlvanney

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I read this book on Fiction Fan’s recommendation since this book was gave this her FictionFan Crime Thriller Award Winner back in 2013, yes I know, I don’t like to rush to read promising books!!

Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw is investigating the rape and murder of pretty young Jennifer Lawson who was recently reported missing by her father. Detective Constable Harkness is there to assist him, newly transferred he has been warned about Laidlaw’s unorthodox methods. But the police aren’t the only ones investigating this crime – Jennifer’s father is determined to find the killer first.

Set in 1970s Glasgow hardly a page is turned that doesn’t have a snarl or a raised fists which alongside the nervousness of the women all reinforce the menace that stalks through this book. Times are hard in Glasgow with the national industries closing down and so these hard men need to make their mark on the world in the way they know best, through violence.

Unsurprisingly since this book was originally published in the 1977 the sense of time is shockingly well done including the bigotry that ran rife in Glasgow at that time. I’m not sure that poor Jennifer would have put up with the way her father ruled her and her mother quite as meekly in this day and age. His uncompromising manner had meant that there were hints of a secret boyfriend after she chose someone unsuitable in his eyes a while earlier, but was her murder committed by someone she knew, or was it perhaps a chance killing. That’s what the maverick that is Laidlaw intends to find out. But, he is considered unusual for a policeman in those macho times, because he cared about the causes of crime as a fellow officer commented:

“You’ll have to wear wellies when you work with him. To wade through the tears. He thinks criminals are underprivileged.”

Whilst the mystery itself is fairly run of the mill when you discount that this is the first of the genre now known as ‘Tartan Noir’ the beauty of this book is in its language. It is a joy to turn the page and find something pretty much quotable on practicably every page.

Sunday in the park – it was a nice day. A Glasgow sun was out, dully luminous, an eye with cataract. Some people were in the park pretending it was warm, exercising that necessary Scottish thrift with weather which hoards every good day in the hope of some year amassing a summer.

Partly because of the lyrical language this reads quite unlike most crime fiction; it isn’t a book to be devoured to find out whodunit because we know who the perpetrator is fairly on, the question is who will get to them first, the police or local justice? This is book to savour to think about the views of all involved even those who are apparently viciously elbowed out like Jennifer’s mother by the men determined to find their man and make him pay.

The one element which worried me ahead of reading this novel was the inclusion of the dialect; I’m not a big fan of dialect in a book but I honestly didn’t struggle with the inclusion in this one either in terms of meaning or with the inevitable slow-down it usually causes adapting to unfamiliar letter patterns which tend to pull me outside of the story. This was one book where those short and infrequent bursts of dialect did add rather than detract from the story particularly when I worked out Laidlaw’s use of it himself gave a pointer to the type of person he was conversing with!

An all-round enjoyable read which I’m delighted to have finally read – the next two in this trilogy are now on the wishlist and I don’t intend leaving it quite so long to get around to reading them.

First Published UK: 1977
Publisher: Cannongate Books
No of Pages 304
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 6)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Number one find this week is the winner of Fiction Fan’s Crime/Thriller award since I’ve either read or have on my TBR every one of the honourable mentions!
Laidlaw by William McIlvanney this is the first part of a trilogy and at £1.37 on kindle it has beamed its way onto my collection.

laidlaw

Blurb

An extraordinary debut by a Scottish mystery writer, this cult classic of crime fiction presents Detective Jack Laidlaw, a policeman as complex and self-critical as you’ll ever meet. Laidlaw follows the trail of murder investigation deep into the underbelly of Glasgow, a world he knows the way Phillip Marlowe knew Los Angeles. Goodreads

and as that doesn’t actually tell you anything I suggest you read Fiction Fan’s Review
Laidlaw Amazon UK

Next up is Nearest Thing to Crazy by Elizabeth Forbes

Nearest Thing to Crazy

Blurb

Dan and a group of his friends enjoy Sunday lunch together on a perfect summer’s day. They’re pleased to welcome their glamorous new neighbour and novelist, Ellie, who has rented a house in the village to work on her book. She likes to place herself in the centre of her plots, she says, although it’s hard to see what she’ll find to write about in this quiet backwater. As Ellie slots effortlessly into the village social scene, Dan’s wife begins to feel increasingly alienated from her friends and isolated from her family but, for the life of her, she can’t fathom out why …

Nearest Thing to Crazy Amazon UK

A fine sounding psychological thriller…

My lovely friend lent me The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

The Truth About Melody Browne
Blurb

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…Amazon

The Truth About Melody Brown Amazon UK
I love Lisa Jewell’s books, she really has the art of how to tell a story so this should be a good read.

For a lovely tomboy I have selected a book I haven’t read The Cursed Sword by Rosalind Kerven

The Cursed Sword

Blurb

The first in a new series of seven books featuring a wonderfully villainous character, Grim Gruesome – a mysterious, shape-shifting, child-hating trickster, the terror of the North Lands. Bjarni needs a sword so he can join a pirate ship and win some treasure, but he can’t afford one. Then Astrid’s mysterious long-lost uncle appears out of the blue and offers to lend him one; but the strange runes carved on it are a dangerous curse. When he uses it, he and Astrid plunge into a terrifying adventure. Includes vikings. Goodreads

The Cursed Sword Amazon UK

What have you found this week?