Book review: Where the Dead Men Go, By Liam McIlvanney

A new take on gritty Glasgow

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The Independent Culture

The gritty, mean streets of Glasgow are a very familiar stomping ground for fans of modern British crime fiction, so it takes something a bit special to stand out from the pack. Where the Dead Men Go is a terrific, ultra-modern crime novel, a book full of contemporary relevance, yet one that also investigates the age-old links to the criminal underworld that modern Glasgow is trying to shake off.

Gerry Conway is a reporter back at a city broadsheet newspaper after three years away. The newspaper industry is dying and he’s the only rat returning to the sinking ship. When Conway’s colleague disappears, he’s left to investigate an old-school gangland shooting, then when the colleague winds up dead, things take a very sinister turn.

Set against the backdrop of Glasgow’s preparations for the Commonwealth Games and Scotland’s run up to the referendum vote next year, Where the Dead Men Go shows how politicians and big businesses are still dancing to the tune of organised crime, and how Glasgow is still in thrall to its bitter sectarian past.

Delivered in lyrical, emotive and often piercing prose, it’s an assured and classy addition to the ranks of Scotland’s crime-writing scene.