Two petty Edinburgh criminal clans lock horns in a darkly funny vendetta.
A flash-forward prologue shows drunken Fraser Savage finding the headless body of his Uncle Phil in his bathtub. It’s a discovery that dampens his original plan to sleep with the petite Effie, whom he’s brought home from the pub. Matters go from bad to worse when Effie begins skillfully strangling him. Back to the beginning, when Fraser’s father, Tommy Savage, is threatened “for what he’s done” by a man in a ski mask calling himself Mr. Smith. To underscore his gravity, Smith gives Tommy a name of a man named McCracken. The next day, Tommy reads in The Scotsman of McCracken’s murder. Enlisting his brother Phil, Tommy plans to get to the bottom of the mystery by squeezing Smith’s courier, a young man named Grant. When the beaten Grant tries to escape Phil and Tommy by smashing through a thick window, he’s killed by shards of glass. Now the focus shifts to Effie, whose father Park, fresh out of prison, is equally vengeful about his missing son Grant and the poor treatment of his frail wife Liz in a nursing home. He deals with this last by taking out the nursing home manager, one McCracken, then turns his attention to finding Grant. Many assaults, retreats and surprises follow.
Breakneck pace, addictively slangy prose and gallows humor. Guthrie (Hard Man, 2007, etc.) is certainly an original.