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Tuesday 3 January 2017

‘The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid’ by Craig Russell

Published by Quercus,
4 August 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78087-488-3 (HB)

Glasgow, 1958. Everyone liked Quiet Tommy Quaid … so how come his death was such an elaborate set-up, who’s behind it, and most importantly, why was he killed? Canadian PI Lennox is determined to find out – if he survives asking the questions.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Lennox narrates the story, Marlowe style, interspersing what happened with sharp one-liners. He starts off as a don’t-care near-criminal who’s made likeable by his own self-awareness, and develops into someone who deserves our respect over the story as his friend’s death affects him. Quaid himself is the other key character, partly through his role in the opening of the story, partly through Lennox’s memories of him, and rediscovery of his character as the plot unfolds. The two are contrasted in their reaction to World War II, a key part of all the characters’ experience; Lennox uses it as an excuse to release his darker side, while Quaid has made it his reason never to be involved in violence again. The characters around them are equally sharply drawn: Lennox’s lugubrious partner, ex-cop McClelland, who keeps him more or less on the right side of the law, but who’s willing to cross that line when law and justice clash; the firm’s muscle, Twinkletoes (due to his preferred torture method – the violence isn’t made too graphic but it’s always there, diffused through Lennox’s sardonic humour), handsome gangster Jonny Cohen and the colourful Polish immigrant, Tony. The plot is fast-moving, with a lot of twists and a high body-count, and the background is vividly drawn, both the physical world of Glasgow - settings like the iron foundry or the sun over the Clyde are evocatively described - and the feel of it in the past, when the great shipyards were still busy, but other industry was in decline, and people were struggling to maintain some normality around the still-empty bomb sites.

A fast-moving PI with vivid characters and setting, and dry, black humour. This is the fourth in the Lennox series, and although it read very well as a stand-alone, I enjoyed it so much I’ll be going back to the first one, Lennox. If you enjoy Glasgow noir, try this series - you’re in for a treat.
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer

Craig Russell  is the award-winning author of the Jan Fabel thrillers set in contemporary Hamburg and the Lennox series set in the Glasgow of the 1950s, Craig Russell's novels have been translated into twenty-three languages worldwide and dramatized for television and radio. Craig Russell is the only non-German to be awarded the highly prestigious Polizeistern by the Polizei Hamburg; finalist for the 2007 CWA Duncan Lawrie Golden Dagger and the SNCF Prix Polar in France; winner of the 2008 CWA Dagger in the Library. Winner of the 2015 Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year.
The first television adaptation in Germany of a Jan Fabel novel attracted an audience of six million viewers. Two further novels have been made into films. He also writes non-crime fiction under the name Christopher Galt.

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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