Ways to Die in Glasgow follows a handful of characters as they maneuver around the disappearance of gangster-turned-acclaimed-true-crime-author Rab Anderson.
I caught the author, Jay Stringer, at this year’s Bouchercon during the Best Paperback Original panel and not only was he hilarious, he was one of the few authors that impressed me so much that I ran to purchase his book immediately after to ensure I got it signed.
In a novel with no shortage of memorable characters, Jay narrows it down to three through whom he chooses to tell the story – P.I. Sam Ireland; the drug-addled nephew of Rab, Mackie; and the detective at his wit’s end, Andy Lambert. Jay saddles each with varying narrative styles with Ireland and Mackie employing first person and Andy in the third. To be honest, this was something I always disliked, but in the past few years, I’ve grown to appreciate it when authors work to apply it well. Each style provided distinct ways to deliver information, opening up the world of Glasgow and giving a recognizable voice to each character, further enriching the story.
However, I felt the true standout of this story was Jay’s sense of humour. He peppers the book with quick jabs of comedy helping to lighten some of the harsher scenes. It takes real talent to make me laugh during a violent, bloody assassination attempt without coming across as both cringe-worthy and forced. Also, as a die-hard wrestling junkie, I appreciated a character who was both a fan and not a complete mess of a human being – traits an individual rarely seems to hold simultaneously.