A Christmas read with a difference. . .
ABOUT THIS BOOK: On the First Day of Christmas…
Twelve Days, twelve stories
Billy Partridge wasn’t really cut out to be a cat burglar, but Dillon hadn’t really given him any option. It was either do the job, or come up with thirteen grand by Thursday … or have both his legs shattered. And the leg thing didn’t even write off what he and Twitch owed Dillon, just deferred the interest. Come the 15th of January there’d still be thirteen thousand to pay.
Then there’s newbie after-school drug-dealer Brian, who probably shouldn’t be taking advantage of the job’s fringe benefits; Philippe, a chef with anger-management issues and a lot of very sharp knives; Mr Unwin, the undertaker with the golden touch; and Lord Peter Forsythe-Leven, MSP, learning the hard way that having it all just means you’ve got so much more to lose…
Twelve short stories, all set in Oldcastle, all taking their twisted inspiration from the classical Christmas song. Murder, betrayal, drugs, sex, and tinsel.
MY THOUGHTS: Although this is definitely not my favorite by Stuart MacBride, it is still well worth reading. It is blackly humorous, seedy Scottish Noir. Not one character has a redeemable feature. It is filled with criminals, pedophiles, and other generally unsavory, detestable characters. Just my sort of Christmas book!
The stories are all linked together, although this is not immediately obvious, by the various characters and their greedy machinations. The first story is by far the best and sets the tone for the following eleven tales.
THE AUTHOR: Stuart MacBride (that’s me) was born in Dumbarton — which is Glasgow as far as I’m concerned — moving up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, when fashions were questionable. Nothing much happened for years and years and years: learned to play the recorder, then forgot how when they changed from little coloured dots to proper musical notes (why the hell couldn’t they have taught us the notes in the first bloody place? I could have been performing my earth-shattering rendition of ‘Three Blind Mice’ at the Albert Hall by now!); appeared in some bizarre World War Two musical production; did my best to avoid eating haggis and generally ran about the place a lot.
Next up was an elongated spell in Westhill — a small suburb seven miles west of Aberdeen — where I embarked upon a mediocre academic career, hindered by a complete inability to spell and an attention span the length of a gnat’s doodad.
And so to UNIVERSITY, far too young, naive and stupid to be away from the family home, sharing a subterranean flat in one of the seedier bits of Edinburgh with a mad Irishman, and four other bizarre individuals. The highlight of walking to the art school in the mornings (yes: we were students, but we still did mornings) was trying not to tread in the fresh bloodstains outside our front door, and dodging the undercover CID officers trying to buy drugs. Lovely place.
But university and I did not see eye to eye, so off I went to work offshore. Like many all-male environments, working offshore was the intellectual equivalent of Animal House, only without the clever bits. Swearing, smoking, eating, more swearing, pornography, swearing, drinking endless plastic cups of tea… and did I mention the swearing? But it was more money than I’d seen in my life! There’s something about being handed a wadge of cash as you clamber off the minibus from the heliport, having spent the last two weeks offshore and the last two hours in an orange, rubber romper suit / body bag, then blowing most of it in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. And being young enough to get away without a hangover.
Then came a spell of working for myself as a graphic designer, which went the way of all flesh and into the heady world of studio management for a nation-wide marketing company. Then some more freelance design work, a handful of voiceovers for local radio and video production companies and a bash at being an actor (with a small ‘a’), giving it up when it became clear there was no way I was ever going to be good enough to earn a decent living.
It was about this time I fell into bad company — a blonde from Fife who conned me into marrying her — and started producing websites for a friend’s fledgling Internet company. From there it was a roller coaster ride (in that it made a lot of people feel decidedly unwell) from web designer to web manager, lead programmer, team lead and other assorted technical bollocks with three different companies, eventually ending up as a project manager for a global IT company.
But there was always the writing (well, that’s not true, the writing only started two chapters above this one). I fell victim to that most dreadful of things: peer pressure. Two friends were writing novels and I thought, ‘why not? I could do that’.
Took a few years though…
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Twelve Days of Winter: Crime at Christmas, by Stuart MacBride, narrated by Ian Hanmore, published by HarperCollins Publishers, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2622131022