The Way of All Flesh is the way of man. I gave it a chance, got to page 50 and cut the cord. Read on. Edinburgh in 1847, was almost there on the page, but the narrators Raven and Sarah didn’t wind their way into my heart. Because it is not for me, does not mean it is not for you. That is the fickle way of all books.
I’m familiar with the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. I’m vain enough to imagine my work may appear in it someday, but the chance seem as remote as Rangers winning ten-in-a-row. Historic Scotland asked novelists whom they considered to be the top twelve crime writers in Scotland to write a story for them. The starting point was not character, or plot, but place. Easy-peasy for any writer or would-be writer and as reading is the engine of writing it gives me the chance to look at some seasoned writers’ work.
My favourite stories were Kinneil House, Sanctuary, written by Sara Sheridan. This inspired me and was a jumping off point to write a story of my own. Edinburgh Castle, Nemo Me Impune Lacessit, written by Denise Mina – with echoes of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin – ran Sheridan’s story close and I’d gauge it here as my second favourite. It’s all a matter of interpretation, of course. There’s no story stinkers, but there are a few predictable turns and not unexpected endings.
Maeshowe, Orkahowe, by Lin Anderson – haunting.
The Hermit’s Castle, Ancient and Modern, by Val McDermid – Old Testament justice.
Stanley Mills, Kissing the Shuttle, by E S Thomson – incestuous.
The Forth Bridge, Painting the Forth Bridge, by Doug Johnstone – no return ticket.
Bothwell Castle, The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle, by Chris Brookmyre – gallus.
Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, Stevenson’s Castle, by Stuart MacBride – Janus-faced.
Crookston Castle, History Lessons, by Gordon Brown –old school.
Crossraguel Abbey, Come Friendly Bombs, by Louise Welsh – eat your heart out.
St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, The Twa Corbie of Cardross by Craig Robertson– Bard and Burns and corvines too.
Mousa Broch, The Return, by Ann Cleeves – doppelganger revenge.