Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An Excellent Hard-Boiled Novel Set in Scotland

This is a deliciously nasty, noirish, early entry in the Hard Case Crime series. The protagonist, Joe Hope, walks the mean streets of Edinburgh, working as an enforcer for a loan shark named Cooper. Joe is especially effective wielding his baseball bat, the sight of which leaves delinquent borrowers terrorized. 

Joe's a heavy drinker, especially when he's been out collecting with his buddy, Cooper, and after one of these all-night sessions, Joe returns home to discover that his teenage daughter is dead. She has apparently killed herself after going to stay with an uncle in northern Scotland.

Joe is devastated and furious, and he vows to take revenge against the uncle who, in Joe's view, did not sufficiently protect his daughter. But Joe has barely begun to take his revenge when he is arrested for a murder that he did not commit. The evidence is heavily stacked against him and it's clear that someone is attempting to put him into the frame.

As the book progresses, Joe must sort out what happened with his daughter and at the same time stay one step ahead of the cops who are in hot pursuit. Neither will be easy, and his efforts align him with some pretty hard characters. One doesn't normally think of Scotland as prime territory for traditional noir crime stories, but by the time Guthrie gets through, he has produced a story worthy of the masters of the genre. This is a book that should appeal to any fan of hard-boiled crime novels.

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