Author – Douglas Skelton
Published – 2016
Genre – Crime fiction
I took up the offer of this book to review because I do enjoy a spot of gritty Scottish crime fiction – and this certainly ticks all those boxes! Skelton is perhaps better known as a writer of non-fiction, including true crime books featuring some notorious cases based in Scotland. In 2013 the first of his fiction books (Blood City) was published – introducing the world to Davie McCall – this was the first in a quartet of books which is now rounded off by Open Wounds.
Davie is a something of an infamous hard man in Glasgow but he’s tired of that life, of what he calls the Life. He’s been acting as something of a mentor to Jimsie, a young man who is finding his feet in the gang run by Big Rab McClymont, and perhaps seeing him caught up in this violent world is part of the catalyst for a change of heart.
Instead of delivering the warning he’s instructed to to a recently released villain, who is accusing Big Rab of framing him, he takes a different tack and starts to investigate the circumstances of the crime. The reasons for this aren’t really clear (not even to Davie) – it’s partly to do with his own past and a bent copper and partly to do with redemption. He’s supported in his endeavours by his friend and former police officer who is now working as a private detective. His quest to make up for his past does allow for some reflection and this fills in much of the backstory.
The book is full of double-dealing and larger than life villains, but there are a few characters, Davie included, who still have a moral compass and know which side of it they want to steer. Unfortunately for Davie no one is playing fair and he takes more than his fair share of knocks. He also embarks on a relationship with a young woman and it becomes clear that his relationships with women haven’t worked out well in the past but the temptation of settling down and having a ‘normal’ life spurs Davie on in the climax to this series.
I did enjoy this book and I didn’t need to have read the previous titles in the series but I do feel I have missed out. The whole quartet presumably shows the development of Davie’s character and some of the things he is seeking to atone for will have occurred in previous books. I feel that I missed seeing how his character changed which would have added a bit more depth to this story. So my recommendation is read the whole lot in the right order.
I read a review copy of this book. You can see another point of view over on Grab This Book.
Score – 4/5