In Last Orders Gus Drury, who's even more down and worn out than ever, makes a most welcome return. In this installment he's been engaged by Callum Urquhart, a minister, to find his 16 year old daughter. Although Gus has a bad feeling about the man he needs his money. Gus brings in two old friends to help - Fitz the Crime & nearly old flame, Amy. Gus, in his usual unusual way is soon on the girl's trail and finds out Urquhart hasn't been entirely straight with him...
For me the sign of a top-class writer is one who can tell a strong story with a minimum words and Tony Black does this yet again with Last Orders. The writing is by turn razor sharp, gritty and witty. The characters are very well drawn, the dialogue sparkles. Mr Black also creates a powerful sense of place in the Edinburgh back streets.
I particularly like Gus Drury whose past again resonates with the girl's situation. He's on death's door (again, I'm amazed & glad he's not buried yet) & he knows he could perhaps be much more than he is, but the great thing is Gus is comfortable with his lot in life. He doesn't struggle any more against fate, rather he embraces it.
Here's an example of the quality of writing:
"I'd flung my Crombie over the back of the couch the night before; as I retrieved it now I could see it was covered in all the dust and c*** that the hoover didn't reach. I needed a coat-brush. F*** it, I needed a hoover."
In previous reviews I've compared Tony's writing quality to that of Ian Rankin. I would do so again here.