Monday, 12 March 2012

The Unburied Dead by Douglas Lindsay

You know, there's a lot of Scottish detectives hanging around the fictional police stations up and down the land; hungover, bad diet, too many fags, rubbish with we really need another one? Is there anything new to be said?

Well, hot diggity-dawg, Douglas Lindsay has just gone and scored a bullseye with his first dart in The Unburied Dead, the first in a series (and he'd better have the next one nearly ready or I'm going to find him and hit him) about Detective Sergeant Hutton, a hungover, unhealthy Lothario who smokes too many fags. What? Didn't I just say that there's already too many of these dandruff shouldered guys stacked to the ceiling in every Oxfam shop in the country? I know...but please, The Unburied Dead is the business!

The plot goes a bit like this; there's a killer on the loose and the polis have to find him. Right, that's that out the way (it is a really good plot though). You know, it's a crime book so there has to be a crime, but honestly, the brilliant and totally entertaining aspect of this novel is the characters, their shenanigans and their humour. Lindsay is funny (it may only be me that thinks that but never mind) and he writes about real folk like you and me who are just as confused, jealous, broken, greedy and damaged as we are. We have met these people; they are the folk who have learnt to laugh at themself because the alternative in the grim light of a Monday morning isn't worth considering.

If you are confused about life, wonder how you've ended up where you are, if you are disappointed but can still laugh, then you'll love this book. There's also sex, blood and violence so maybe you'll just like that if you're a bit shallow.

Now here's a thing. Most Scottish detectives that I've previously read about hang around the big grim cities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow and it's what we expect. But, knock me down with a Loch Fyne kipper, Lindsay sends his Bob Dylan loving Detective Sergeant up the dark winding roads into Brigadoon...oops, sorry, Argyll; up to Arrochar and then the monster climb over the Rest and Be Thankful to the Riviera of Dunoon! My goodness, that takes a brave writer and Lindsay didn't flinch even though it was snowing hard and there wasn't a fish and chip shop open all the way to Dunoon where thankfully his detectives finally get their chips.

OK, go buy it, read it. It's funny, dark, miserable, engrossing and as surprising as a Chippendale chair in the middle of an IKEA store. 

About the Author (taken from the Blasted Heath website )

Douglas Lindsay was born in Scotland in 1964 at 2:38a.m. There is some dispute over the weather conditions at the time. He spent the first few years of his life being an “if I’d had him first I wouldn’t have had another one” kind of a kid. Even now he shows no remorse over this behaviour.
Some decades later he left Scotland to live in Belgium for a while. In the interim period he had been to watch Meadowbank Thistle a lot, including their famous 1-1 draw with Rangers in the League Cup semi-final (a game that might have meant something had not the first leg been lost 4-0). In Belgium he met his wife, Kathryn, and he took the opportunity to drop out of regular employment and join her on a Foreign Office posting to Senegal, West Africa.
It was here that he developed the character of Barney Thomson, based on a funny wee man he used to visit in a barbershop once a month in his home town.
Douglas now lives in the south of England and divides his time between writing books and film scripts, and running after two children. He likes to think of himself as their dad, but they are more likely to see him as “some bloke who lives with us and who shouts if we start throwing food at the dinner table”.

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