Blue Wicked by Alan Jones

Blue Wicked is the second book from Scottish author Alan Jones and is quite different from his first one – The Cabinetmaker. Although I found the subject matter to be a bit too gruesome for my taste I can see that it will appeal to a lot of people who are less squeamish or should I say maybe don’t have such detailed and graphic an imagination as I have.

Eddie is a vet who has the unenviable task of dealing with a poor cat which has been skewered by some evil nutcase. It isn’t the first time that he has come across felines which have been tortured horribly and he knows that there is a theory that those who do such things move on to torturing and killing humans. He searches back in SSPCA files and discovers similar cases which he thinks might be linked.

When murder victims with the same injuries as the cats start turning up in Glasgow he is certain that they are connected and with the help of Catherine, a local detective, he sets out to track down the perpetrator.

As I have already implied, this book was way out of my comfort zone, and in fact I had to dive into the 1950s realms of an Angela Thirkell book as soon as I finished it, but if you enjoy a more violent and gory read such as books by Val McDermid then you’ll probably like Blue Wicked which is well written and does capture the atmosphere of misogyny and condescension which I’m sure exists within all police stations. The actual storyline is well thought out and all of the loose ends are satisfactorily tied up at the end.

Read Scotland 2014

It’s time for a Read Scotland 2014 update, in fact it’s way past time as I’ve just realised that I’ve read 15 Scottish books this year, so I’ve gone beyond Ben Nevis as I knew I would. I don’t know what the next level could be called – do you?

I haven’t been very good at linking to the challenge so here’s what I’ve read so far.

1. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
2. Lanark by Alasdair Gray
3. Rockets Galore by Compton Mackenzie
4. A Double Death on the Black Isle by A.D. Scott
5. The Comforters by Muriel Spark
6. Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
7. The Cabinetmaker by Alan Jones
8. The Daffodil Affair by Michael Innes
9. The Four Graces by D.E. Stevenson
10. The First Book of the McFlannels by Helen W. Pryde
11. The McFlannels See It Through by Helen W. Pryde
12. Sleeping Tiger by Rosamund Pilcher
13. The Clydesiders by Margaret Thomson Davis
14. The Kellys of Kelvingrove by Margaret Thomson Davis
15. Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin – which I have yet to blog about but I really enjoyed it.

A few of these authors have been new to me and of those I think Compton Mackenzie has been the most surprising and entertaining, followed closely by Helen W. Pryde, I must get around to tracking down the rest in her series.

The most disappointing has been Secrets of the Sea House which was just not my cup of tea and was full of cultural mistakes, it isn’t authentically Scottish at all.

I haven’t read any Scottish non-fiction at all but I intend to remedy that soon, so stand by (Lorraine in particular) for a non fiction blogpost – when I’ve rounded up the ones I hope to read this year – which is almost half-way through already. How did that happen?!

The Cabinetmaker by Alan Jones

The Cabinetmaker cover

The Cabinetmaker is the first foray into crime fiction by Alan Jones and I hope it won’t be his last because I really did enjoy it. The setting is Glasgow, starting in the early 1970s and ending in 2009.

John McDaid is the newest recruit to the CID and he finds himself in a department full of detectives who are less than careful about their work and the way they gather information. When a young student is jumped in a Glasgow street by a group of thugs, and ends up dead, the resulting investigation is compromised by the behaviour of the older detectives.

Over the years McDaid forms a friendship with Francis the victim’s father. Francis is a talented and successful cabinetmaker and watching him at his craft awakens a love of woodwork in McDaid. The workshop parts of the book contain some of the best writing. Alan Jones conjures up the scene perfectly, describing the techniques involved in making various pieces of furniture.

The main character of McDaid is very likeable and I do hope that Jones will be able to use him in another book. The storyline has some very clever twists and turns but the language of the police station which is mainly at the beginning is what is usually described as ‘strong’ – don’t let that put you off. Jones wanted to be true to the ambience of the 1970s male dominated police force. I’m sure it’s all very authentic. Think of the TV programme In the Thick of It where the language is atrocious but according to those who know, in reality Blair, Campbell et al were actually even worse with the amount of swearing that really went on in Downing Street.

You can read Peggy Ann’s review of The Cabinetmaker here.

It just shows you that everything is relative as Peggy found the football/soccer parts of the book dragged a bit, whereas I thought those bits flew past. I’m assuming that that is because I’m well used to being bored stiff by my husband’s football chat!

If you fancy reading The Cabinetmaker you can buy it here. You can ‘look inside’ and get a flavour of the book too.

Alan Jones is Scottish and lives in Scotland, so this one would count towards the Read Scotland 2014 challenge.