Hugh C. Rae is a Scottish author who has flown under my radar for many years until a recent e-mail from 280 Steps - a new to the scene e-book publisher announced the re-issue of a 70's crime classic - The Shooting Gallery.
Having been relieved of my ignorance, I did a bit of web browsing and found some more of his probably long forgotten crime books he put out in the late 60's and early 70's.
Book blurbs and synopses, inaccurate or otherwise for crime fiction books of 40 to 50 years ago are usually scant, always assuming you can find one at all. On that basis, I’ve taken a punt on a few of his books, which are readily available at affordable prices on-line. Ok so one of the ones I bought apparently features a ghost, but I’m sure I will enjoy it when I get around to it.
Mr Rae after absenting himself from the crime fiction scene at some point during the past 30 to 40 years, continues to write and sell today as ………. Jessica Stirling. I doubt my desire to push the boundaries of my reading will extend to Scottish historical romances, but never say never.
Peggy over at Peggy Ann's Post has recently read and enjoyed one of the Stirling books for her Read Scotland challenge – something I signed up to but haven’t yet fully embraced.
Rae has also penned books as James Albany, Robert Crawford, R.B. Houston and Stuart Stern. His-her website is here.
Skinner and Night Pillow are his first two published novels which initially appeared in the mid-60's. I have lifted the blurbs from the back covers of my printed editions. Skinner is a 1988 reprint and Night Pillow is a 1972 Penguin - one of those ones whose typeface I find so off-putting and unattractive.
Skinner is a nondescript member of the sleazy world of petty crime; his only distinguishing characteristic being his predeliction for killing. Women in particular.
From the outset of the book, Skinner’s guilt is not in question – not to his sister and not to the police – Skinner even boasts of it.
But proving it is another matter. Skinner’s macabre dance with death and the law embraces four more brutal murders before, by a deft twist of the plot, the police get some very hard evidence and Skinner….
Alice rises from love-making with university student Malcolm, only to be knocked down and raped by Jacko, a motor-cycling Rocker with a hard and whip-muscled body. Which of them is the father of the baby she conceives? Which one of them does Alice want the father to be?
Alice has to contend not only with her own feelings, but with her family’s provincial Scots pride as deep as a clan’s; with repressions as primitive as village superstition; with vendettas and counter-vendettas; with emotions so twisted, so knotted, they can only be undone by violence……
At some point I will read these two, as well as The Shooting Gallery and my ghost book!