Partnership In evrl

Iain Banks’ new novel is his most violent since The Wasp Factory. But is it anything more than a particularly nasty book for

boys? Thom Dibdin found out.

A buzz is going round The Scotsman newspaper offices on Edinburgh‘s North Bridge. Who, the hacks ask, looking sideways at each other over their work-stations, can be the real-life model for Cameron Colley, hero of Complicity, the latest mainstream novel from lain Banks. Cameron is a

Unsavoury politicians and establishment figures are being put to particularly nasty and appropriate deaths.

journalist of almost gonzoid dimensions, working for a thinly- disguised version of The Scotsman. He fuels his research into conspiracies in the weapons industry with a partiality for illegal white powders, a seriously kinky love affair and a compulsion for

:5" a ,., lain Baits: ding a rem to the twice: violence of The Wasp Factory

computer games.

Any North Bridge journalist hoping to sting Banks for slander or defamation of character is out of luck, however. He has frequently declared an almost pathological aversion to original research, and Complicity is no exception. He gave the first draft of the novel to a journalist friend who

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suggested a few additions. it is these touches, such as the high generated from writing something one evening and seeing it in print the next morning, which lend the descriptions of newspaper life their authenticity.

Besides being an excellent read. Complicity is a return to the furious violence of Banks‘ first novel, The Wasp Factory. ‘That was quite deliberate.’ he says. ‘It was a reaction to The Crow Road, (Complicity's predecessor) which was almost cosy in places, and has what could easily be taken for a happy ending, sentimental even. I don‘t want people to start thinking thatjust because l‘m 39, i’ve lost my touch and can't shock and annoy people. i wanted to get back to something that was a bit more unsettling. i didn't want people to think that The Crow Road was the start of a long, slippery slope into gratuitous cosiness and general niceness.’

Cosy Complicity is not. Mirroring Cameron’s discovery of a hushed-up series of murders in the British weapons establishment is a sequence of atrocities which take place as the plot unfolds. One by one, a group of unsavoury politicians and establishment figures are being put to particularly nasty and appropriate deaths. in passages of the novel which are difficult to read even by Banks‘ already bloody standards he describes each tortured killing from the unknown assailant's viewpoint, with typical full- colour attention to detail.

Behind the gruesome descriptions there are other, more serious purposes at work. There is the cautionary-tale

element of Cameron's obsessive personality: amphetamines, the urge to find a story. fast cars, sex and all-night sessions on computer games are equally addictive elements of a character on the fast track to bum-out. Then, there is the time-span over which Comp/lefty is set: a few weeks last autumn, when Banks was actually writing the novel. Cameron's

Amphetamines, the urge to find a story, sex and all-night sessions on computer games

are equally addictive elements of a character on the fast track to burn-out.

newshound status allows contemporary events, such as the rallies in support of the miners and the arrival ofthe first Tn'dent submarine at Faslane, to be woven into the framework ofa thriller. ‘l‘ve always wanted to get politics more into my books,‘ says Banks. ‘Rather than having it on a surface level, with the occasional character spouting in what is obviously an editorial voice, gibbering away about how big bastards the Tories are or whatever. That‘s all well and good, and needs to be said, but i've never really been able to work politics into the actual meat and gristle ofthe plot. Which is why I am pleased with this one, it does work a bit better. It might still start from the surface. but at least it does run its way further in.‘ C omplir‘i t_\' is published by Little Brown. price f I 5.99.

Iain Banks at Dillons.


Iain Banks will be at Dilions on Saturday I lth September. LOO - 2.00pm signing copies of his new novel Complicity published by Little Brown. If you can't be there, ring O4l 248 48M to reserve a signed copy.

One of Europe's finest bookstores is at I74 Argyle Street, Glasgow. A Pentos Company

IN THE HEART OF STOCKBRIDGE Open all day and in the evenings MONDAY SATURDAY

Good food, good value in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere

Take us over for your party Come and see us or call Jerry or Alan on 031-332 1469


The List 10—23 September 1993 71