The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney

Anyone who loves crime fiction whether it be classic noir or complex whodunits will delight in this, the first Jack Laidlaw mystery, finished posthumously for McIlvanney, the acknowledged creator of “Tartan Noir” by Ian Rankin, another wizard of the craft. Dark, violent and complicated, it’s a masterwork of the genre.

Dark Remains by William McIlvanney, Ian Rankin
Europa Editions
Paperback | $16.95
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Just out in paperback, the first Jack Laidlaw mystery will delight fans of what has become known as “Tartan Noir”, a category virtually invented by this author. Completed posthumously by one of the other master practitioners of the genre, Ian Rankin, we are introduced to the enigmatic detective who is a classic loner, an iconoclast, occasional loose cannon and fascinating combination of intuitive sleuth and tough-guy gumshoe who would be loved by fans of Mickey Spillane. Not only is he a brilliant deductive reasoner, he’s also a hard man easily the equal of any of the mobsters who populate the Glasgow underworld.


Laidlaw has just been assigned to a new post, one where the authorities hope he will cause less trouble, but this is a vain hope. Forced to work with an incompetent and self-important supervisor, he immediately alienates most of the force except the one man designated to be his partner. They form a delicately balanced relationship which solidifies as each learns the strong points of the other and they forge a functioning partnership, always at risk due to Laidlaw’s penchant for working alone.


A frustrated scholar and philosopher clad in the armor of a tough-talking, hulking cop, he employs classical thinking in navigating the murky waters of Glasgow’s ruthless and brutal gang lords. He is respected and feared by both his own colleagues and the bad guys as a straight shooter with little time for the intrigue and Machiavellian workings of the feudal world of Scots gangsters.


The murder of the consiglieri of one of the three prime movers of the criminal element in the city bids fair to ignite a gang war over turf rights and primacy that will break the grudging and perilously balanced peace previously held by the chiefs of their clans. Deception, violence, duplicity and treachery are the daily bread of these practitioners of crime. Laidlaw has to unravel the numerous skeins of clues and red herrings to arrive at the truth, no matter the cost.