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Thursday, 8 January 2015
‘Crow Bait’ by Douglas Skelton
Blood City, Skelton’s first Glasgow-set thriller, left Davie McCall with a glimpse of his long-estranged father as he was driven off to begin his jail sentence. Crow Bait begins ten years later, with Davie leaving prison, only to find that life outside has changed: the gangs he knew have been replaced by drug dealers. There’s been a murder which replicates the death of his mother ...
Told in the third person throughout, Crow Bait follows several characters: policeman Frank Donovan, Davie’s father, his ex-girlfriend Audrey, dealer Rab and others. The main focus is on Davie himself, and he’s a sympathetic character: gentle under his tough exterior, chivalrous towards women, principled about drug-dealing. His hard time in prison is brought to life through description and the thoughts of the characters there, like Davie’s cell-mate and the prison governor, and the difficulties in the way of going straight once he’s out are all too plausible. Glasgow is vividly evoked through description of place but also in the characters’ speech and attitudes. The storylines – Davie’s duel with his father, Rab’s dealings, the murders – are woven together deftly, building up to a belter of a finish, suspense-filled, moving and with a final twist.
A fast-moving sequel to Blood City, and a real treat for all fans of Scottish noir.
Douglas Skelton is an established true crime author, penning eleven books including Glasgow’s Black Heart, Frightener and Indian Peter. He has appeared on a variety of documentaries and news programmes as an expert on Glasgow crime, most recently in the Glasgow programme of ‘Gangs of Britain’ with Martin and Gary Kemp. His 2005 book Indian Peter was later adapted for a BBC Scotland radio documentary which he presented. His book Frightener, co-written with Lisa Brownlie, was instrumental in cleaning the names of two men wrongly imprisoned for mass murder and is currently being developed as a feature film. Blood City was his first foray into fiction.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group. Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.