Sunday 22 June 2014


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.    
Jessica Stirling

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 the story of a psychopath.

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….

Night Pillow

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!


  1. Col - I think it's always nice to discover a hitherto unknown author. You never know what little gems you can find. I admit that these don't sound like my cuppa, but I'm glad you've found some new books and I hope you'll enjoy them. Look forward to your reviews.

    1. Margot thanks. I am looking forward to these.

  2. That's a complex story - what a busy person this author is...

    Is this a new look? It looks different, but not too different, a good clean look. I'm thinking of tinkering with mine, but I quail from the thought of sorting it out.... what decided you to make changes?

    1. I'm glad he is still writing even if the content has evolved away from my kind of books.

      Hmm.... didn't think so, but I see what you mean. I construct most of my posts "off blog" and cut and paste them in, I used a different text this time, which I might stick with as it's easier on the eye. I'm tempted to change my colour scheme and I might dispense with the announcements of what I'm reading and intending to read - but then the RHS might be a bit dull (or even more dull) without any photos. As soon as I complete my reading challenges I'm done with them because I have stunted my they will go.

      On another note - I started sorting my books out at the weekend, not got around to cataloguing them, just straightening and boxing into 50's. I think I have enough now and ought to seriously think twice about getting any new additions.

  3. Two dark and gritty books you got there, Col, especially "Skinner," but then I'm used to reading this sort of stuff. A new author is always welcome.

    1. Prashant thanks. I think I would possibly favour Skinner over Night Pillow, but hopefully they are equally as good.

  4. What an interesting man, what an interesting story. I admire him for pursuing his writing in many areas. I will be interested to see what you think of his books when you try them. The Shooting Gallery sounds most interesting from my personal point of view.

    I was interested to see your comments about deciding to stop buying books. I know, we all keep saying that. I had a health scare this weekend and the funny thing is it made me start thinking about the books I want to read and which ones are most important to me.

    1. Tracy, I agree. He has had a prolific writing career, even if everything probably isn't my cup of tea.

      I'm sorry to hear about your scare, fingers crossed that's all it was and you are soon on the up and up.

      As I said to Moira, I think enough is enough now, as its hard to justify adding more stuff, when I already have enough for the next 20 years at a minimum. So difficult though!