The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris

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The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: It's the mean streets of the city of Glasgow just after the second world war. Two childhood friends, Douglas and Hugh have now grown up, gone their own ways - until the murder of a child brings them together once again.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Atalantic Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857893642

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This book is already The No 1 eBook bestseller so I was expecting a good read. Part of The Douglas Brodie Series, where Brodie, the central character, is a no-holds-barred journalist, although his past reveals that he's been a soldier and a policeman. Ferris elaborates further and gives his readers some background on Brodie. Brodie comes across, right from the start, as a resourceful, likeable and forthright man who has not been afraid to break away from his small-town roots in the west of Scotland. His present job is based in London but it's obvious that Brodie's heart's just not in it. He wants to return to Scotland, Glasgow in particular and try his journalistic luck there. An opportunity soon comes along - but it's one he was never in a million years expecting.

Ferris' writing style got me into the story straight away. Fluid, witty, with lovely descriptions, put-downs and a nice line in Glasgow/west of Scotland patter eg: Is that you Dougie boy?. As I know these locations well I automatically inserted the accent, where appropriate. An added bonus, if you like.

The plot itself is fairly simple but it's also very effective. Hugh has been sentenced to death in the notorious Hanging Shed but the thing is, he claims he's totally innocent. But the evidence is stacked against him and what's more, the clock is ticking ...

No pressure for his old chum, Brodie then. But somehow he cobbles together a feisty, female advocate and also some new evidence. They work as a team with some flirting here and there but the combo works very well. Hard-man (but with a soft centre) Brodie and inexperienced but starting to make a name for herself, Samantha are soon a force to be reckoned with.

The story ripples along nicely. The dialogue is good too. There's a terrific conversation between two Glasgow housewives which makes Brodie smile, overhearing their local chat. He's home. He knows fine well that his fancy London ways will soon be shot down in flames, if he tries them on. He doesn't. Wise man.

It's perhaps not surprising that Brodie has some unfinished business back home, in the romance stakes. But he's a pragmatist. People change. Is there anything left to resurrect?

Ferris gives his readers a detailed flavour of some elements of Glasgow in the mid-1940s. The pubs and watering houses, for example, many of which were strewn with sawdust and where no self-respecting woman would enter. Samantha is middle-class and a bit posh so we get to see the other side of Glasgow in the shape of the leafy and desirable West End of the city.

I found that some of the action in the second part of the book was a little hyper for me personally. Not a criticism, just an observation. We see the intrepid Brodie criss-crossing on various ferries in pursuit of the 'truth' and also in pursuit of the 'bad guys.' Overall, an entertaining read with a strong Scottish flavour and yes, you could say that Ferris is doing for Glasgow and the west of Scotland what Rankin is doing for Edinburgh. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try A Cool Head by Ian Rankin.

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