Gordon Ferris is one of the latest additions to the genre called Tartan Noir, as headed by the likes of Rankin and Banks. His books are a mix of crime and action thrillers. Gordon Ferris had an MOD background which makes his accounts of the military aspects of his books fairly accurate.
This is the second book by the author following the exploits of ex soldier turned journalist Douglas Brodie and his lawyer female friend Samantha Campbell. There are several other characters who carry forward from the first book The Hanging Shed as well as a mention of a character, Danny McRae who has been the subject of his own two books.
Though the characters carry forward, this book can quit easily stand alone without having read the first one. This book is also set in late 40’s Glasgow
and has a lot of themes that are still as relevant today: the after-effects of war on soldiers, the relationship between press and police, corruption in local councils and a bit of homophobia for good measure.
As with any review of a fiction book it can be difficult to write anything without giving away too much of the plot but suffice to say that this one is less farfetched. The story starts with the discovery of the body which sets in motion a series of events which takes out Brodie through the streets of Glasgow
and out into the surrounding countryside. There are plenty more bodies in store at fairly regular intervals, with a fair degree of brutality.
Again Ferris catches the essence of Glaswegian speech in his writing, using a combination of dialect and slang in all dialogue. It helps set the mood of the book which is essentially dark, though there is an element of humour in some aspects. The locations used are all real so if you have any knowledge of the West of Scotland then you can quite quickly envisage exactly the various areas where the story occurs
The main character Brodie is now a crime journalist working in Glasgow
, he spent the Second World War in the Seaforth Highlanders having served with the 51St
Highland Division and escaping from capture at St. Valery by stealing a small boat and sailing across the channel, he then serves in North Africa and Europe obtaining a commission on the way. His female companion is lawyer Samantha Campbell who lost her fiancée during the war.
The story revolves his investigating this initial murder with subsequent crimes occurring throughout the book. There are a number of deaths and the inclusion of a vigilante gang to muddy the water. The eventual climax is reached after a twisting turning journey and occurs at an action packed fast pace.
The title is based on a biblical quote, although a fair number are used through the book as the vigilante gang are religious in nature. There a few stereotypes in the story other than the religious vigilantes, there are several alcoholic chain smoking journalists and newspaper editors, Jewish tailors, and good and bad cops galore.
I don’t normally do “crime” novels but I’ve enjoyed both Hanging Shed and Bitter Water and as such have no problem giving this 4 Mr Mushroomheads.
Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris published by Atlantic Books Click here to buy from Amazon