Saturday, 16 April 2016

Ways to Die in Glasgow, by Jay Stringer - a review


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.


Jay Stringer is one of those writers who you know is in full control of every word he writes as soon as you begin reading. Every paragraph, every sentence. Every word. Tight as a hangman's noose. Not a word more, not a word less.  

Ways to Die in Glasgow  is told from a predominantly multiple first person point of view, alternating at regular intervals. It is hard enough for a writer to pull off one convincing first person voice, let alone several. It is testament to Stringer's ability that he manages it with such ease, the female characters being just as convincing as the male characters.

The central character, the one that drives the narrative is Sam. Sam is a female PI who, after taking on the job of finding Rab, very quickly finds herself immersed in the blood and darkness and sharp-edged insanity of Glasgow's brilliantly drawn murky underbelly.

Mackie - Rab's nephew - he's a lunatic, and DI Lambert, well, he has his own secrets.

As the narrators' stories begin to converge, and all sorts of nefarious characters poke their heads above the slime to find out what's happened to Rab, the pace and the blood and the insanity increase. Yet there is not the slightest hint of confusion as Stringer guides us through the madness with a surety and a humour that never once leads us to suspect he will dump us in some grim Glasgow sidestreet, crying out for an explanation through broken teeth and bleeding gums.

Ways to Die in Glasgow holds nothing back.

And I loved it.

Ways to Die in Glasgow is available from Amazon UK here  and Amazon US here

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