The Loner by Quintin Jardine
|The Loner by Quintin Jardine|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: Half-Spanish, half-Scots Xavier is brought up in the midst of a troubled family and its secrets. He's gifted but finds he has a nose for a good journalistic story - but will his constant questions and searching in the murky world of drugs - prove too much for some?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: March 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Jardine starts with some background on Xavier Aislado. Even at school in Edinburgh, his bulk and rather serious manner ensures that he sails through his academic courses. This is against the odds of a chaotic life at home. His Spanish father's a bit of a cold fish, his Scottish mother is as meek as a church mouse so Xavier (or Xavi) is really guided and nurtured by his rather ferocious grandmother, Paloma. Even I was afraid of her. She takes no prisoners, wears the trousers in the Aislado household (in both Spain and Scotland) and speaks her mind every time. Although there are certain areas which are out of bounds. But I also loved her too. Jardine has created a terrific character in Paloma, in particular.
The novel is set in Thatcher's Britain. And Xavi's comfortable, middle-class life in a genteel part of Edinburgh can be perhaps highlighted with the words His upbringing has been so narrow, I'm not sure that he'll be ready to cope when life kicks him in the balls, as one day it surely will. But who is saying this? And how can they be so certain that Xavi's life is going to take this downward spiral? All is eventually revealed as Jardine drip-feeds his readers and keeps them dangling and guessing right to the end. I appreciated the element of suspense.
We find out early on that the super-talented (or so it seems) Xavi thinks he's got what it takes to make a name for himself in football for a well-known local Scottish team and Jardine gives his readers plenty of sporting prose - but for me, too much, especially for a fiction story. More than once, I found myself reading a paragraph only for it to take a side-step and slow right down with a dearth of football data. In fact, some readers may not even get past this sporting part of the book (Scottish football will not be everyone's cup of tea). I ploughed on, of course. And I was rewarded with an engaging storyline.
Jardine introduces a lot of characters. Flat mates, work mates, girlfriends, boyfriends ... While I appreciate that this is his style (and I did warm to it after a shaky start) I feel personally that a few less characters would have been better. I would say that there's two, if not three books within this one book, it's so packed with narrative.
As Xavi grows into a young man, he certainly has an action-packed and interesting life. And I was struck by how grown up he was especially by his language and conversations with others when barely out of his teens, didn't quite come across as fully credible, I'm afraid. Jardine seems to know Edinburgh pretty well. Locations, bars, schools, street names all feature regularly. And he goes to great pains to expose its underbelly, if you like, the sordid, criminal parts that normal people (like Xavi) don't see. I would sum up this book by saying that this is traditional story-telling. It's all about proper sentences giving the reader information and moving the plot along. A rollicking good story. Recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeal then try another Scottish standalone Doors Open by Ian Rankin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Loner by Quintin Jardine at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Loner by Quintin Jardine at Amazon.com.
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