Tony Black

Preface hbk £17.99, trade pbk £12.99

Released: January 7th 2010

Reviewer: Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of the Riley Gavin/Frank Palmer series published by Crème de la Crime.  Visit  www.adrianmagson.com for more.


Tony Black, author of ‘Paying For It’ and ‘Gutted’, does a very nice line in inner rage. And Gus Dury, his angry, tormented Edinburgh journo, goes off the scale when his brother Michael is found shot to death. For Gus, quite apart from the sense of loss, it’s lousy timing. He’s managed to swear off the booze (he keeps a sealed quarter of Grouse in his pocket just to prove it) and is now back with Debs, his wife, after their break-up. Things were bearable up to this point, if not perfect - and it’s just coming up to Christmas. 

But this is enough to tip Gus over the edge. He remembers all too well the birth of his younger brother, and his utter despair at not being there to protect him from this monstrous death is a straw too much. Still able – just – to resist taking that dangerous first sip of the golden nectar, he rampages through Michael’s back-life, fuelled on speed as a lesser evil, trying to find out what led from his brother’s previously gilded life in a large house and a successful business, to a silent and violent ending in the Meadows. 

To his initial disbelief, he discovers out that Michael’s life was not quite what it seemed. There are forces at work which have changed the business dramatically, and the original local workforce of which Michael had been so proud, has gone, to be replaced by imported Czech labour run by a sinister gang boss with a dodgy past. And it’s obvious that Michael’s co-director, a very shifty Davie Prentice, is hiding something big. 

Enter Gus’s wrecking crew, Mac and Hod, and his dog, Usual. Aware that he is risking everything that he has with Debs, Gus cannot help himself; fighting the demons of guilt, despair and anger, he wages the only kind of war that he knows, running up against the Czechs, a local gangster known as the Undertaker – and even Fitz, the only local cop willing to give him the time of day. 

It’s not pretty, but with a backdrop of a cold, wet winter, of hard men and unforgiving circumstances, it’s a claustrophobic and gritty portrayal of a man walking on the very edge of disaster.






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