Squeaky Clean by Callum McSorley

Squeaky Clean by Callum McSorley is the author’s first novel and it won the McIlvanney Prize: Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The setting is Glasgow, mainly the east end.  I must say that I did like this one but in parts it’s not for the faint-hearted, or weak stomached, it’s definitely on the violent and gory side, but there is comedy too.

Detective Inspector Alison McCoist (yes, Ally McCoist) bungled her last investigation so she’s been demoted, if that wasn’t bad enough her husband has got custody of their teenage twins, things couldn’t get much worse for her but she’s determined to claw her wake back up again, it’s either that or she’ll be retired out of the force.

Sean owns a car wash business, he doesn’t do any of the work himself though, he’s in the office, with a serious cannabis habit. Davey is one of his employees, and he makes the huge mistake of ‘borrowing’ a client’s massive 4×4 to get to a family court session on time, he’s in danger of losing visiting rights to his much-loved daughter. Unfortunately Davey gets kidnapped on the way there, and the very expensive car is torched. He has been mistaken for Paulo, Glasgow’s most violent psychopathic gang leader.

Ally has had dealings with Paulo and company before, and she’s very suspicious of the car wash business. It’s all very dangerous for her, but if she succeeds in getting a conviction she’ll be back on that career ladder again.

This was a good read which reminded me a bit of Christopher Brookmyre’s books, but with less of the crazy humour, although it is funny in parts. I would definitely read more by McSorley in the future. I must admit though that there is quite a lot of Glasgow dialect which was no problem for me and I think should be easy for non Glaswegians to understand, but some people just can’t cope with dialogue like that.



4 thoughts on “Squeaky Clean by Callum McSorley

  1. I found a used copy of Squeaky Clean through AbeBooks, for little more than the cost of shipping. The motivated detective struggling with inner demons, or substance abuse, or PTSD, or a broken marriage, is not one of my favourite themes, but your reference to Glasgow dialect caught my interest.

    It might be some time before I get around to reading it. I’ll leave a comment when I do.

    • Janusz,
      I feel the same, it has become a bit of a cliche that detectives have to be so flawed, it makes them interesting, I suppose that’s the idea anyway, and they often have a quirky car.
      It sounds like you might have as big a ‘to be read’ pile(s) as Jack and I have.

  2. After several false starts, I abandoned Squeaky Clean at the beginning of Chapter 26. The Glasgow dialect was intriguing, but the book failed to hold my interest. It struck me as a flawed imitation of the breathless quick-cut style of story telling.

    As I began each chapter, I couldn’t help thinking that the preceding chapter had added little of significance.

    I purchased a used copy of the hardback edition, and was surprised to find it in mint condition. Another surprise was the glued, unsewn spine. Out of curiosity, I inspected the bindings of four recently purchased hardbacks and found that one of the four is similarly glued. Not something that I noticed before.

    • Janusz,
      I’m glad that you were able to understand the dialogue anyway. I’ll have to have a look at my recently purchased hardbacks now, it’s not that many, mainly non-fiction, as I prefer older books, but glued together hardbacks sound like a nasty cost-cutting effort. I wonder how long it will be before glue dries out and pages come adrift.

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