This is the third novel in the original Laidlaw trilogy.
The death of his brother Scott in an apparent accident – Scott was drunk and hit by a car driven by a newsagent – has upset and angered Jack Laidlaw. His intuition says it was no accident and so he determines to find out who knew what and when. His colleagues are investigating the murder of a drug dealer and slowly but surely the two narrative strands are brought together.
Laidlaw immerses himself in the Glaswegian underworld once again to find out the truth and also has field trips to the Ayrshire coast, the Scottish Borders, and even to Edinburgh.
The reckoning is quite shocking and none of Scott’s friends come out of it with much credit. The murderers of the drug dealer are caught as is their underworld controller so at least that investigation had a successful conclusion. Jack Laidlaw didn’t receive the same satisfaction.
William McIlvanney was an amazing writer and there’s a revealing question and answer section at the end of this book where he says people told him in the 1970s and 1980s he could make a lot of money if he wrote a Laidlaw book every year. However, he wasn’t interested in doing that as there were other ideas he wanted to try. You have to admire a writer for being honest with themselves.