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HARD MAN by Allan Guthrie Kirkus Star


by Allan Guthrie

Pub Date: June 4th, 2007
ISBN: 0-15-101298-9
Publisher: Harcourt

An Edinburgh thug gets caught in the middle of a violent family fracas.

Ex-con Gordon Pearce has inadvertently gained a reputation as an effective enforcer (Kiss Her Goodbye, 2005, etc.). So the dim, lunkish Jacob Baxter and his sons Flash and Rog visit him with an offer they hope he can’t refuse. They want Pearce to rescue their daughter and sister May from her abusive husband, Wallace. Unfortunately, the trio gets Pearce at a bad time. His mother has recently died, and it’s hit him hard. All he has left is his beloved three-legged Dandie Dinmont terrier, Hilda. When the Baxters show Pearce May’s dead dog, whom Wallace killed, he doesn’t respond, so they try ineptly to muscle him. Pearce refuses again, but the Baxters don’t give up. Knowing that May could well pay for her pregnancy by another man with death for herself or her unborn baby, the Baxters shrewdly pit Wallace against Pearce, who turns the other cheek for awhile. Meanwhile, Rog is attacked in the middle of the night by a dark figure he assumes to be Wallace. It takes the snatching of Hilda to convince Pearce to act. But he underestimates Wallace and finds himself imprisoned along with a frightened young man named Jesus who, Pearce learns at length, is the father of May’s child.

By turns hilarious and horrifying, Guthrie’s original voice grabs the reader and doesn’t let go.