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Monday 16 November 2015

‘Devil’s Knock’ by Douglas Skelton

Published by Luath Press Ltd,
1 Jun. 2015.
ISBN: 978-1910021811 (PB)

Davie McCall has accepted that only Glasgow’s gang world – ‘The Life’ – has a place for him, and now he’s Big Rab’s right-hand man. He’s determined not to be a killer, but when one of Rab’s boys is knifed by Scrapper Jarvis, it looks like all-out war will sweep him in...

This story cuts quickly from person to person: Rab and his family and gang, the redoubtable Maw Jarvis and her sons, Scratchy the homeless man, Donovan the would-be good cop, Knight the unashamedly bad one, and most of all, the hero, Davie McCall, tormented by his past, a loner who doesn’t believe he deserves to be part of a family, a highly sympathetic character who’s given way to the devil inside him, yet is not past redemption. The bit-characters have wonderful names like Kid Snot and Choccie Barr, and the dialogue is sharply Glasgow, yet still accessible to those from elsewhere. The Glasgow humour’s there too, as well as the vividly-described mean streets. The plot moves fast, with cross, double- and even triple-cross, and scenes of violence balanced by moments of quiet intimacy – it’s a compelling read which builds up to a satisfying explosion of surprises... and a lead-in for the next episode.

A fast-moving and vividly written gang crime novel. It reads well as a stand-alone, but it’s the third in the series, and there are spoilers, particularly for the shock ending of the previous book, as well as a lot of characters to take in, so I’d suggest starting with the first Davie McCall novel, Blood City. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

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.

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