The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris
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The Hanging Shed was at the top of the Amazon Kindle chart a couple of months ago due to its absurdly cheap price. If I am being honest, its price was the chief reason I bought this crime thriller set in post-war Glasgow, the same era as the previous book I reviewed, The Long Glasgow Kiss. But here the similarity ends. Where Craig Russell’s book had a smart, noir feel to it, Ferris’s is its darker, grittier cousin.
Douglas Brodie is an ex-cop, ex-soldier home from the war and trying to ply his trade as a London journalist when he gets a call from an old friend who was horribly burned in the war. Hugh Donovan is due to be hung for the murder of five young boys and what follows is Brodie’s attempt to prove his old pal’s innocence, helped by Donovan’s lawyer, Samantha Campbell.
The book is populated by a diverse range of characters from cops who may or may not be on the take, priests who may or may not be all they seem and a selection of low-lives as merciless as you’d find anywhere.
Ferris switches between standard English for the most part and ‘Weegie-light’ for some dialogue which, I believe, shouldn’t cause a non-Scot any problems.
My only criticism of the book is that Brodie’s growth seems to happen in a Eureka moment right at the end of the book. Yes, he learned to let go of a part of his past – I won’t give details lest I spoil the book for anyone – but I reached the end not really feeling that he changed significantly. This left me feeling just a tad unsatisfied and I really would have wanted more definite character development. I did like the subtle use of the hanging metaphor, but felt that perhaps it could have been used even more at the end to tie the narrative up – figuratively as well as literally.
On the whole, I would recommend this book. But, if I’m totally honest, I preferred The Long Glasgow Kiss.