By coincidence, I just finished two different mysteries set in Scotland. Both were okay, both should have been better, both merit three stars, and I have more to say about one than the other…
Death of a Gossip
It’s fine for what it is: a Scottish cozy mystery Agatha Christie rip off. But it spends way too much time on the boring, awful side characters and not nearly enough time on the wonderfully cantankerous Hamish MacBeth.
Cn. Abuse, horrible depictions of mental health
Can we chat for a second?
Not the ideal way to begin a book review BUT…
Ah man, I’m just so f-ing sick and tired of diabolical serial killers. It’s exhausting. The ratio of serial killers in fiction-versus-reality is off the charts. They’re not interesting. They’re not compelling. They’re damn sure not unique.
Alan Parks has an interesting tableau: 70s Glasgow in all its grimy glory. He could do so much more with what he writes. He has an interesting, if half-baked lead in Detective McCoy (come to think of it, just about all of his characters are interesting-if-half-baked). He has a grasp of social dynamics and crime.
But, man, like 70% of this book read like someone’s horrifying genre mashup script of a bad 80s slasher flick and scat porn.
Like really, we get it. Blood, piss, fecal matter. A machete to any nuanced depiction of mental health. We don’t need graphic descriptions. They’re intended to shock but they just bore, like your dad making the same joke every other day.
I just wish these books were better. If you combined the respective talents of Parks and William McIlvanney, you’d not only have the ultimate in tartan noir but maybe the greatest Scottish writer of all time.