Reviews for The dark remains : Laidlaw's first case

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Rankin, the creator of Edinburgh DI John Rebus, returns to complete an unfinished prequel to the Jack Laidlaw trilogy by the late McIlvanney, the founding father of Tartan Noir. It’s no great surprise when Conn Feeney recognizes the corpse found stabbed to death behind his pub, The Parlour, as that of Bobby Carter. The money-laundering specialist who put the criminal in criminal attorney had been reported missing days earlier by his hard-used wife, Monica, and the clients he advised weren’t the type to let him slip quietly away. To complicate matters, Carter was known to be friendly with a long line of ladies extending most recently to exotic dancer Jenni Love, who insists that their affair had ended, and Cam Colvin, the crime boss who owned Carter and a whole lot of lesser fry, is facing a serious turf challenge from rival gang leader John Rhodes. So it’s the perfect time for DC Laidlaw to bring his signature mix of expertise and attitude to Glasgow’s Central Division. The world McIlvanney and Rankin create—there’s no indication of who wrote what, and readers will be hard-pressed to tell—is deliciously fluid in its conflicts. Gangs fight gangs, bosses threaten their underlings, informants sell out their former intimates, husbands and wives squabble over their betrayals, and Laidlaw makes no secret of his withering contempt for DI Ernie Milligan, the incompetent who’s inexplicably been put in charge of the case. The solution is as readily foreseen, unless you’re Milligan, and as deeply satisfying as the final lines of a prayer. A precious chance to spend a few more hours with a franchise that ended much too soon. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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Set in 1972 Glasgow, Scotland, this smoothly written prequel to McIlvanney’s Laidlaw (1977) was completed by bestseller Rankin (the John Rebus series) from an unfinished manuscript by Edgar finalist McIlvanney (1936–2015). When a local mob lawyer is stabbed to death, everyone, including the lawyer’s underworld boss and Jack Laidlaw, newly recruited to the Glasgow Crime Squad, wants to find out who did it. The police are mostly concerned about keeping the peace between rival gangs, but Laidlaw’s focus is on where the case began, “a much thornier question.” Of more appeal than the meandering plot and the predictable denouement is the portrayal of the mean streets of Glasgow, rife with “poverty, loveless marriages, drunken aggression, sectarian bile, like angry tattoos hidden under a laundered shirt.” At first blush, Laidlaw, regarded by his colleagues as “a one-off in a world of mass production,” is a classic tough loner of a cop, but he surprises the reader at every turn, showing himself to be literate, intelligent, and thoughtful. McIlvanney’s fans will relish this gritty early perspective on Laidlaw. (Sept.)

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