Wednesday 8 September 2021


Synopsis/blurb ...

If the truth's in the shadows, get out of the light . . .

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth.

Probably one of the best books I will read this year. The Dark Remains is an absolute banger with big ticks in all the right boxes for my reading palette. When I finished I was half tempted to start it again, it was that satisfying.

Setting - Glasgow, 72. I love a tale set back in a period when I was growing up and which I can relate to having lived through it. No pcs, no mobile phones, no internet, no easy short cuts for the police, lots of door knocking and visits.

Plot - a possible gangland murder, an investigation or two - the official one led by a dunderhead cop and Laidlaw's own digging, with a bid to avert an underworld war.

Characters - Laidlaw himself ... decent, honest detective, but a loner, a clever man, got a family - a wife and two bairns, though no happy family. For an intelligent man, I can't really see how he got himself into a situation that is uncomfortable for both him and his wife and those she drags into the orbit of the Laidlaw family tensions.

Support cast - family, police colleagues, criminals - both fraternal cohorts and rivals ... plenty of mistrust, duplicity, shows of strength, posturing, jealousy, shows of stupidity, heightened frictions, uneasy alliances, snitching, secrets, threats, violence and cover ups

Pacing and outcome - pitch perfect - fast moving and exciting without ever feeling rushed or outrageous.

Length - 288 - bang on the money - ripped through it in a day and a half.

A top, top tale.

6 stars from 5

McIlvanney's Laidlaw was enjoyed way way back in 2012. I really must dig out the other two in the series - The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties - and read them. That other chap, Mr Rankin needs some attention paid to his work also.   

Read - September, 2021 

Published - 2021

Page count - 288

Source - review copy from publisher Canongate 

Format - paperback


  1. This one was already on my wish list, Col, and you've cemented a place for it there. I'm not surprised, given the highly skilled pair of authors here, and it sounds as though this combines the best of their skills. OK, sold. I am going to read this.

    1. Woo hoo, Margot. I'll be keen to hear what you think of it!

  2. I had not heard about this, Col, until recently. Six stars, so you really really liked it!

    Glen passed on his Laidlaw books to me, I should read the first one someday soon.

    1. Well worth looking out for, Tracy. I hope you enjoy the original series as well.