It's been a long time since Laidlaw (1977), McIlvanney's memorable Glasgow-cop debut, with high expectations for a sequel. But, though much of the original grit and dialect and vivid portraiture is on display here, this is a largely disappointing follow-up--without the focus or taut pace of its predecessor. This time loner Jack Laidlaw starts out by investigating the death of a poisoned old tramp, whose deathbed clues are two names: Paddy Collins; Lynsey Farren. And Laidlaw soon identifies Collins as a recently killed underworld type, Fatten as a slumming rich girl who's been moving from lover to lover among Glasgow's top low-lifes, with sporadic returns to yet another lover: Tony Veitch, a Glasgow student with a rich father, radical leanings, dangerous pals. . . and unknown recent whereabouts. Laidlaw finds him dead, too, of course, and eventually nabs his killer (a particularly undramatic revelation). But while Laidlaw's sleuthings among high and low are generally absorbing, with a few riveting vignettes, much of the novel follows related subplots among the Glasgow mobsters: a revenge scheme by Paddy Collins' brother-in-law; the rovings of a thug who was planning to join the late Paddy in a blackmail plot against Veitch. And, especially since the Glaswegian argot is occasionally impenetrable, these non-Laidlaw sequences make things often slow, sometimes murky. Not on the Laidlaw level, then, though still rich in grim city backgrounds and roughly eloquent atmosphere.