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SCOTTISH CRIME FICTION
The Blood Tree (Hodder & Stoughton £16.99)
Killing The Shadows (HarperCollins £16.99)
Ten years ago, if you'd mentioned the words ’Scottish' and 'crime' in the same breath, the response would have been a lot of glazed eyes and puzzled expressions. For a while, the term simply denoted the grizzly investigations of one craggy- faced former boxer, the catchphrase ’there's been a murrdurr . . . ' and the mean streets of Maryhill whose body count rivalled the final act of Hamlet.
These days everyone's at it, particularly in the literary world. If the combined output of Scotland's current crop of crime writers is anything to go by, we should be stepping over bloody corpses on every corner and dodging serial butchers left, right and centre. Bookshops and library shelves are groaning under the strain of the celtic crime novel, with entries to
Val McDermid and Paul Johnston ponder the state of Scottish crime
suit every macabre taste, whether that be the humorous horror of Christopher Brookmyre, the page-turning intricacy of Quintin Jardine or the gritty mysteries of Ian Rankin.
And it’s not only the residents of the central belt who should beware this soaring crime rate. Justice of the Peace Aline Templeton has conceived a number of successful additions to the genre from the unlikely location of Perth.
The dark closes and cloisters of the capital provide a suitably Gothic backdrop for much of Scotland's crime renaissance, exemplified by the new publications of two eagerly-awaited Edinburgh bloodfests. Val McDermid's Killing The Shadows follows a forensic expert's investigation into a copycat killer with a penchant for the works of Jack The Ripper, while Paul Johnston's The Blood Tree is the fourth novel in his series set in the futuristic city-state of Enlightenment Edinburgh.
Of course, if you consider the literary pedigree of the
city that inspired Sherlock Holmes, it's perhaps not surprising that crime writers should be rediscovering Auld Reekie. ‘lt's the classic Jekyll And Hyde city,‘ agrees Johnston. ’This great, opulent tourist area surrounded by schemes. That stark juxtaposition makes an interesting, schizophrenic setting.’
In Johnston's latest book, renegade investigator Quint probes the theft of human cloning documents from the now disbanded Scottish Parliament, one of several institutions to feel the sharp edge of Johnston's satirical concerns. ’The satire goes hand in hand with crime in my books. I'm sceptical about political institutions but my work isn't specifically about shooting sacred cows.’
Surely he must have taken some pleasure in blowing up his old school, Fettes, in Body Politic, albeit as a route into the issue of private education? 'I enjoyed the reaction to that as much as anything. Though it’s a rather rancid way of getting in touch with your roots.’ (Allan Radcliffe)
o historu of clutch footboll
Football's future may well be orange
EURO 2000 Football Books
With Scotland havrng lost out in their attempts to qualify for Euro 2000, a rash of books may help the Tartan Army's literate end take their minds off this latest glorious failure Or they could indulge in the desperate, if ultimately enjoyable ritual of over- celebrating when England lose yet another crucial penalty shoot—out. Indeed, the terror of the spot-kick rs analysed by Andrew Anthony in On Pena/ties (Yellow Jersey £10), Iovrngly adorned by a grim-looking Davrd Batty after hrs decisive miss in France 98. Mainstream Publishing don't need a summer feast of football to get tomes in shops, they publish as many books a season as there are disallowed away goals at Ibi‘ox The revrsed history, The People's Game Ilvlainstrearii £7 99) by James Walvin may be the pick of their
The future is Nick Varley's concern in Park/rfe (Penguin £7.99), as the man who covered the Hillsborough disaster for The Sunday Times whrle still a student Journalist goes in search of football’s heart and Simon Inglis explores hrs fascmatron wrth sporting stadrums in Slglll/TITOS (Yellow Jersey £18i,
Euro 2000's co-hosts Holland and World Cup holders France get books all of their own, David Winter wrth Brilliant Orange (Bloomsbury £14.99) while Le Foot (Abacus £9 99) edited by Christov Ruhn includes contributions from lrvrne Welsh, Salman Rushdie and Tam Dean Burn
The twrn strikeforce of Nick Hornby and Sky TV has had some negative effects for the British game but the wealth of thoughtful literary output is not among them IBTldll Donaldson)
Debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Colin Ginks Who he? Colin Grnks was a struggling journalist, graphic desrgner and troubled heterosexual, lrvrng in Brighton and then in Liverpool while dreaming of foreign shores. Ten years on, Grnks is now a successful homosexual, lrvrng in Portugal and making his career in antique trading, writing and deSigning.
His debut It's called Char/ene’s Angels and tells the tale of a troubled gay youth called Gus. Harb0uring an unhealthy father fixation, Gus also has an unresolved relationship with a promiscuous Bosnian hunk called Serge and the novel follows his attempts to find love amid the chaos and Violence of a fictitious Lrverpool caught—up in gang warfare. When homophobic queer-bashing sweeps the City, the 'Charlene' of the title takes matters into her own well-manicured hands and along wrth her fearsome tranny army, sets about exacting revenge and taking control of the streets.
Basically , . , Basically, it’s as surreal as it s0unds. Part gay soap opera and part menacing thriller, the novel rs peopled wrth larger than life comic book characters and achieves a heady momentum as events burld to a Violent climax. Although very much geared towards a homosexual audience in its often vrvrd depictions of gay coupling and homophobic intolerance, the novel is perhaps destined for a wrder audience due to the bold, vrsceral style in which it's written.
First line test ’The cathedral loomed over Gus like a Nazi stormtrooper as summer heat slapped him wrth a sweaty paw.’
To whom the book is dedicated 'For Michael Langan’.
What's next? Grnks is currently at work on a new novel about a gay kickboxer.
, (Catherine Bromleyr
a Char/ene’s Ange/s rs published by Codex priced [ 7. 95.
8—22 Jun 2000 THE llST113