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junipergreen

pareidolia

science fiction, new weird, old weird, very weird - and everything else

not always save for work. never nice.

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Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany
Progress: 201/801 pages

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

I'm a bit lazy during this heat wave, so I'll give you the official synopsis:

 

A violent drunk with a broken heart, Mackie looks for love in all the wrong places. When two hit men catch him with his pants down, he barely makes it out alive. Worse still, his ex-gangster uncle, Rab, has vanished, leaving him an empty house and a dead dog.

 

Reluctant PI Sam Ireland is hired by hotshot lawyers to track Rab but is getting nothing except blank stares and slammed doors. As she scours the dive bars, the dregs of Glasgow start to take notice.

 

DI Andy Lambert is a cop in the middle of an endless shift. A body washes up, and the city seems to shiver in fear; looks like it’s up to Lambert to clean up after the lowlifes again.

 

As a rampaging Mackie hunts his uncle, the scum of the city come out to play. And they play dirty. It seems that everyone has either a dark secret or a death wish. In Mackie’s case, it might just be both.

 

Ways to Die in Glasgow hits fast, hits hart, and delivers its punch with pitch black humour. It's just my kind of pulp.

 

I discovered Jay Stringer through his Eoin Miller Mysteries, some of the very few stories with a Roma lead character (although not #ownvoice). Those were set in England's Black Country, Stringer's old home. He's since moved to Glasgow, and the city became the new setting for his stories as well. Just like the Black Country, Glasgow builds a lively background for our hapless protagonists. During the course of 24 hours, they have to face murder attempts, betrayal, secrets, and ever shifting alliances. You can never be too sure who's on your side and who's gonna shoot you in the back as soon you look the other way.

 

Stringer chose a different narrative style for each of his three POV characters: 1st person past tense for Sam, close 3rd person past tense for Lambert, and the ever irritating 1st person present tense for Mackie. It's a bit gimmicky and not strictly necessary, as all three characters already have a distinct voice, but it doesn't get too annoying. Mackie's chapter are the most entertaining by far – he's not exactly sharp, but a force of nature. And he's got his priorities straight:

 

Now I'm fucked off.

Shoot me? Aye, I'm and annoying shite – I get that.

Shoot Jenny T to get to me? Well, she chose to be with me, I guess; she took her chances.

Grab my Uncle Rab? Well, Rab's pissed of a lot of people.

But shoot a dog?

I'm going to fuck them up big.

 

Mackie sets to his task with all the detective skills he's learned from watching hours of Columbo. Of course, that doesn't go well.

 

This is also one of the rare cases where the dreadful 1st person present tense not only works out, but is actually the best choice.

 

Ways to Die in Glasgow is not the most realistic story, but a fun romp, a bit like the early Guy Ritchie films. Also very brutal. Don't get too attached to the characters, they might not be around for long.