cover image The Dark Remains

The Dark Remains

William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin. Europa, $27 (208p) ISBN 978-1-60945-719-8

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.)