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I don’t know about you, but when I’m browsing for a new book, the opening paragraph is of vital importance. If the first paragraph grabs me, I’ll buy the book. And when the first line is as good as that in Craig Russell’s The Long Glasgow Kiss, I want to take it home and feed it strawberries and chocolate.
“Some concepts are alien to the Glaswegian mind. Salad. Dentistry. Forgiveness.”
Come on, you know it doesn’t get much better than that.
Our narrator in this tale of missing persons and boxing is Lennox, a Canadian who has settled into the life of a private investigator in post-war Glasgow. And if you think the ‘violent Glasgow’ tag so often used by the media is a modern invention, you’d be wrong. Oh, so very wrong. Russell’s Glasgow is one of petty thugs, gangs based on religious affiliation, crime lords and…more thugs. Never has the label ‘tartan noir’ been so accurate.
In making Lennox Canadian, Russell has loaned his character just enough exoticness to make his smart-mouthed narration believable. This is a man who cares about whether he dons a fedora or a borselino and whether his sap ruins the line of his fine wool summer suit. I think I might love him…
It is also a very, very funny book. I found myself sniggering frequently at such bon mots as,
“They say Eskimos have a hundred words for snow. Glaswegians must have twice that many for the different kind of rain that batters down on the city…”
“A Scottish acquaintance had once tried to reassure me that tweed from the Isle of Harris was less scratchy, explaining that this was because it was traditionally soaked in human urine. I could have been accused of being picky, but I preferred couture that hadn’t been pissed on by an inbred crofter.”
I am deliberately not telling you what the book is about. Not a hint of a plotline shall pass these lips. I want you to go buy it and enjoy each twist and turn as it happens on the page. And if you don’t, I’ll set Twinkletoes on you. Trust me – that’s something you and your shoemaker don’t want to happen. Not if you want to keep dancing…