Saturday, May 27, 2006

Scottish (or tartan) noir (in part)

There are too many writers of noir fiction in Scotland, and they're too diverse, to sum up in a single article. There's Peter Turnbull (police procedurals of a high standard by a former social worker who knows the streets, novels set in Glasgow if I remember correctly); Ian Rankin (my interest in him is growing, due to several recommendations from writers like Deon Meyer as well as a couple of pretty good BBC series made from his books--though when I read them the first time around, his novels, set in Edinburgh, didn't engage me much); Denise Mina's bleak novels of an underclass dependent on anti-depressants; Christopher Brookmyre's thrillers (the best of them are perhaps too funny to be really noir); Val McDermid is Scottish (don't know if she still lives there, though), and her novels are certainly very dark; then there's Douglas Lindsay, whom I haven't read (hard to find in U.S.) but I hear he's "darkly funny," as they say; and there's the series (several books anyway) by William McIlvanney, featuring Jack (I think that's his first name) Laidlaw--and these are the most purely, classically noir novels set in Scotland that I know of (though I'm for some reason usually less interested in organized crime villainy, very prominent in these books, that individual criminals).
There's also a large crop of mystery novels set in Scotland, more of the cosy or middle-class mystery variety than noir, going back many years--in comparison to the noir novels listed above (and their ilk) this stuff is very Nancy Drew, to me--Alex Gray or Simon Brett, for example.
What do you think? Have I missed any "real" noir novels of Scotland? Let me know--and let me know what you think about Douglas Lindsay--should I be investing in the overseas shipping to get his books?


Allan Guthrie said...

Glenn, you might want to take a look at Ray Banks (THE BIG BLIND, SATURDAY'S CHILD). And, if you're really hard up for reading material, my own Edgar-nominated KISS HER GOODBYE or CWA Debut Dagger-shortlisted TWO-WAY SPLIT. Opinions may differ as to whether they're any good, but everybody agrees they're most definitely noir.

highlander65 said...

Hey, pretty cool seeing Allan Guthrie on here. Anyway, I thought I'd mention an author who was born in Fife, and who writes crime novels (set in Germany). Noir? Well, they're pretty dark. The first one was called "Blood Eagle" and the second is "Brother Grimm" which I spotted in Ottakars bookshop in Aberdeen earlier today. I'd already spent over thirty quid on paperbacks, so I didn't buy it. But it's on my list ..

Another Scottish writer who seems to be taking off is Stuart Macbride. His novels are set in Aberdeen, and although I haven't read any of them (yet), one of the guys at work has, & recommended him to me.

highlander65 said...

Whoops! Well there's an example of sleep deprivation for you. I've been up for far too long, these night shifts are a killer. The author from Fife, whose name who I forgot to mention, is Craig Russell. What am I like?

highlander65 said...

Well I took my own advice and read "Dying Light" by Stuart Macbride. I quite enjoyed reading a book set in Aberdeen (I live in the NE myself ) and expect more novels from this author. A series of cases, tangled together in the granite city, and a detective sergeant who's managed to get himself in his boss's bad books. I don't want to give anything away, but everything in the novel comes together quite well. Drugs, strippers, hangovers and fish suppers. A crime novel set in Aberdeen. I liked it. :-)

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