Saturday, May 18, 2013

Stonemouth, by Iain Banks

Rating: 3.5/5
Publisher: Pegasus Crime
356 pages
Source: Library book

Description: Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth, Scotland.

After five years in exile his presence is required at the funeral of local patriarch Joe Murston, even though the last time Stewart saw the Murstons he was running for his life. An estuary town north of Aberdeen, Stonemouth, with its five mile beach, can be beautiful on a sunny day.
On a bleak one it can seem to offer little more than sea fog, gangsters, cheap drugs, and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. And although there's supposed to be a temporary truce between Stewart and the town's biggest crime family, it's soon clear that only Stewart is taking this promise of peace seriously.

Before long a quick drop into the cold, grey Stoun River begins to look like the easy option, but as he steps back into the minefield of his past to confront his guilt and all that it has lost him, Stewart uncovers ever darker stories, and his homecoming takes a more lethal turn than even he had anticipated.
(From the book jacket)

Review: I did actually like this book. The characters are strong and believable, and the plot kept me reading. The writing made it very clear that these were Scottish characters, in Scotland, without being unreadable by those of us who aren't Scots.

Its not exactly the book I was expecting from either the jacket description or the cover art, but I could overlook those as minor flaws and probably the publisher's fault.

However, it had an issue I couldn't overlook.

A couple of times the story gets sidetracked by author tracts. The first one is actually worked into a conversation that it actually makes sense for the character to be having, but the second one just sticks out like a sore thumb. Even where I agreed with them, they both felt a bit rambly and out of place.

Other than that, an enjoyable book and actually fairly tame, compared to some of the author's other books.

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