A new writer' blackly funny 'blood and suds' thriller is this week's Star Read
A new face on Scotland’s tartan noir crime scene is Callum McSorley, a writer who sets his debut novel on the crowded Glasgow streets where fictional detectives should be tripping over each other.
But setting this week’s Star Read Squeaky Clean in a seedy car wash, the writer makes the city his own. And not afraid to weld a ruthless criminal world to the black comedy of life in the shoes of loser Davey Burnet, McSorley’s anti-hero is blessed with a talent for flawless car valeting that unfortunately doesn’t look as if it can save him when he crosses the wrong guy.
That guy is chilling gangster boss Paulo McGuinn: “Fourteen stone of psycho muscle turning to middle-aged jelly who walked around as if Al Capone didn’t die syphilitic and alone, as if Escobar wasn’t gunned down on the roof of his own home and Dillinger wasn’t sold out by his own burd…”
But should you feel sorrier for Davey or Detective Inspector Alison McCoist – Ally McCoist?
The middle-aged female investigator is saddled with a name all find funny (she’s no former Rangers hero), but now also a joke career.
A previous cock-up she made means she gets all the duff jobs, even the new constables call her “Detective Doughball”.
Soon Ally and Davey are caught up at opposite ends of an unravelling mystery, each with their motives for wanting to solve it and get their lives back on track.
In the north, we first met Callum as an entertaining guest of the Cromarty Crime & Thriller Weekend earlier this year – they know how to pick them!
And anyone who wants to catch up with Callum talking about his writing will find him at this year's Bloody Scotland International Festival in Stirling in person and online next month.
Callum is definitely one to watch. His characters and locations are effortlessly authentic, add in the chutzpah of a gloriously gothic imagination, plus a talent for raw language, cheerfully gory violence and a twisty plot.
No surprise, his book is shortlisted for the Debut Prize for first crime novel, the winner revealed on September 15 at Bloody Scotland where the writer – as mentioned above – will appear.
Squeaky Clean by Callum McSorley (Pushkin Vertigo, £16.99) is out now. The Debut Prize winner will be announced on Friday, September 15 from 5pm and the award ceremony will also be online – details for tickets in the link for Bloody Scotland here:
More by this authorMargaret Chrystall