"If you can write one of these a year you will become a millionaire." This was the career advice given William McIlvanney back in the '70s as he wrote the Scottish noir trilogy that would become his masterpiece. Of course, what would any right-thinking Scotsman do with such advice? Why, set aside mystery writing and become a poet, of course! Long hailed, by the likes of Ian Rankin, as an underground classic, Laidlaw is poised now to reclaim its masterpiece status. 'Literary mystery' does it no justice, so let's just call it this: flat out amazing.— Brad J.
Book One in the Laidlaw Trilogy
“Laidlaw...‘is not just an inspector of crime; he’s an inspector of society.’”—Allan Massie, “The Father of ‘Tartan Noir’,” Wall Street Journal
Introducing Jack Laidlaw, the original damaged detective.
The Laidlaw novels, a groundbreaking trilogy that changed the face of Scottish fiction, are credited with being the founding books of the Tartan Noir movement that includes authors like Val McDermid, Denise Mina, and Ian Rankin. Says McDermid of William McIlvanney: "Patricia Highsmith had taken us inside the head of killers; Ruth Rendell tentatively explored sexuality; with No Mean City, Alexander McArthur had exposed Glasgow to the world; Raymond Chandler had dressed the darkness in clever words. But nobody had ever smashed those elements together into so accomplished a synthesis."
In Laidlaw, the first book of the seies, readers meet Jack Laidlaw, a hard-drinking philosopher-detective whose tough exterior cloaks a rich humanity and keen intelligence. Laidlaw's investigation into the murder of a young woman brings him into conflict with Glasgow's hard men, its gangland villians, and the moneyed thugs who control the city. As the gangsters running Glasgow race Laidlaw for the discovery of the young woman's killer, a sense of dangerous betrayal infests the city that only Laidlaw can erase.
About the Author
William McIlvanney is widely credited as the founder the Tartan Noir movement that includes authors such as Denise Mina, Ian Banks, and Val McDermid, all of whom cite him as an influence and inspiration. McIlvanney's Laidlaw trilogy “changed the face of Scottish fiction” (The Times of London), his Docherty won the Whitbread Award for Fiction, and his Laidlaw and The Papers of Tony Veitch both gained Silver Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association. Strange Loyalties won the Glasgow Herald’s People’s Prize.
Praise for William McIlvanney and his Laidlaw Trilogy
“From the opening chapter of Laidlaw, I knew I’d never read a crime novel like this.”—Val McDermid, author of The Mermaids Singing
“It's doubtful I would be a crime writer without the influence of McIlvanney's Laidlaw.”—Ian Rankin, author of Rather be the Devil
“Fastest, first and best, Laidlaw is the melancholy heir to Marlowe. Reads like a breathless scalpel cut through the bloody heart of a city.”—Denise Mina, author of Garnethill
“Laidlaw is a tough novel, with an exciting ending, and it is superbly written. You should not miss this one.”—The New York Times
“William McIlvanney is a great rediscovery.”—Mark Lawson, BBC
“It is great entertainment, but McIlvanney’s achievement is to transcend the conventions of the crime novel even while he observes them. The trilogy is one of the finest things in modern fiction, in the Chandler and Simenon class.”—Spectator
“A classic of the genre…If you only read one crime novel this year, this should be it.”—Guardian
“The finest Scottish novelist of our time.”—Telegraph
“Allan Guthrie probably comes closest to McIlvanney in his mix of humor and compassion, but even that top-flight crime writer doesn’t do it with the same concentration.”— Peter Rozovsky, Detectives Beyond Borders
“The Laidlaw books are not just great crime novels, they are important ones. McIlvanney proved that crime writing could have both perfect style and huge ambition. Most of us writing crime fiction today are standing on the shoulders of giants. McIlvanney is one such giant.”—Mark Billingham, author of Sleepyhead
“Laidlaw is a rebuke against the triteness of moral certainty, an evangelist of the sanctity of doubt and a preacher on the necessity of love.”—The Herald, Scotland
“McIlvanney is the razor king of Scottish crime writing, carving out crackling prose and pounding storylines. His Laidlaw is an enduring hero with the dry wit and insight to make other literary detectives seem two-dimensional.”
—Gordon Ferris, author of the Douglas Brodie series
“The Laidlaw books are like fine malt whisky—the pure distilled essence of Scottish crime writing.”—Peter May, author of the Lewis trilogy
“William McIlvanney paints a world of harsh reality, but does so in language that is strangely beautiful and hauntingly poetic. His work defies pigeonholing in any genre: this is simply great writing from a master of his craft.”—Craig Russell, author of the Jan Fabel series
“I have seldom been so seized by a style, or so taken by a character as I was by the angry and compassionate Glasgow detective, Laidlaw…McIlvanney has broken new ground, and is to be congratulated on his talent and his daring.”—Ross McDonald, author of the Lew Archer series
“McIlvanney’s prose is simultaneously sparse and lyrical. Short sentences, paragraphs and, indeed, chapters give the feel of a thriller to some beautiful writing.”—Killing Time Crime
“A crime trilogy so searing it will burn forever into your memory. McIlvanney is the original Scottish criminal mastermind.”—Christopher Brookmyre, author of When the Devil Drives