Book Review – The Hanging Shed


the hanging shed book coverThe Hanging Shed – Gordon Ferris

Official Blurb: Glasgow 1946. Brodie’s back in Scotland to try and save childhood friend Shug Donovan from the gallows. Everyone thought Donovan was dead, shot down in the war. The man who eventually returns is horribly burned, only venturing out for heroin to deaden his pain. When a local boy is found raped and murdered, there is only one suspect, but Donovan claims he’s innocent. Ex-policeman Brodie feels compelled to help him. Working with advocate Samantha Campbell, Brodie finds an unholy alliance of troublesome priests, corrupt coppers and Glasgow’s deadliest razor gang. As time runs out for Donovan, the murder tally of innocents starts to climb. When Sam Campbell disappears, it’s the last straw for Brodie.

What’s it about? It’s not about what the title suggests really! I thought I was going to be reading a book about the search for a reprieve for a convicted murderer and was expecting a fast paced thriller that would end in the way it “should”. But I was wrong, and I’m glad about that!

This book is a fantastic thriller about an ex-policeman-cum-journalist who has been called back to his childhood home in order to help an old friend who has been convicted of murder. Once he gets on the trail of the case he finds himself embroiled in a situation that quickly becomes dangerous for him personally. The story is much, much more than the blurb suggests and it doesn’t end in the way that we’d expect neither.

Where is it set? Post-war Glasgow, but some action takes place on the isle of Arran and in Ireland.

Who are the main characters? The main protagonist is Douglas Brodie (“just call me Brodie”), and the cast of characters round him are Samantha Campbell, an Advocate, Hugh Donovan, the accused/convict, and the Slattery gang, a group of violent criminals.

How well is it written? Very, very good. The narrative is written in the first person, which I generally don’t really like but in this book was fitting. The plot was BRILLIANT and even though I could spot where one or two turns were twisting I was taken on a fantastic and thrilling ride through it.

I loved the main characters of Brodie and Campbell – well drawn, believable, acted within character throughout etc – and I can forgive the author for making the police and the criminals a little bit like cartoon characters in contrast. The image of the thick gangsters and the bumbling police was spot on, if only a little caricaturised.

My only criticism of the structure was that the ending was a little rushed and even though all the pieces fell into place, I felt a little bit lost with who was who and why was why, if you get me? Overall, it was good, and although some of the detail was a bit blurry for me it didn’t detract from the whole thing being a satisfyingly good read.

My overall impression? I haven’t read any of this author’s work before and I was really impressed by the quality of this book. I loved the descriptions of the hardness of life in post-war Glasgow, the pubs and the fish suppers and the people.  There is a romantic element too which is not at all gratuitous and only serves to enhance the human-ness of the story. Without that, the story could well have been a dry academic exercise in crime-thriller writing.

I believe this is the author’s debut novel and if the rest of his work is as good as this then bring it on!

Will I read the next in the series? Most definitely!! And at only £2.50 on Kindle from Amazon I don’t feel (too) guilty about already downloading it…..!

Would I recommend it to my friends? Yes. If you like your books to have a good racy plot, believable characters, unexpected twists and turns, and a search for truth and justice set in 1940s Scotland then then is for you. It would be enjoyed by both male and female readers alike, and would be attractive to teens as well as older readers. Not all of my reading material would be suitable for all groups of readers (my fondness for vampire novels would leave my Dad cold, for example) but this is a cracking good read for those who love reading for the fun of it.

 

 

 

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