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When top crime reporter Martin Moir of The Tribune turns up dead, his colleague and friend Gerry Conway finds it hard to accept that his death was suicide. Conway had been a mentor to the younger man but Moir's success in getting exclusives about the workings of the underworld had given him top billing on the paper. Now Conway must return to covering crime at a time when two rival gangs are facing off against each other and a street war looks likely. And he must also try to find out the truth of what happened to Moir...

Set in present day Glasgow, this is a well written story with noir-ish tendencies. Glasgow is shown as a city of violence where rival gangs divide up the turf and corruption is rife. Conway's job as a reporter gives McIlvanney the opportunity to look at the changing world and diminishing importance of newspapers in the age of online news. Conway's character is well developed as we see him struggle to juggle the demands of the job and his family (partner, ex-wife and children). As Conway's investigation begins to uncover the depth of the corruption, he and his family become the targets of the gangland bosses. A flawed hero, Conway's integrity is put to the test when danger threatens and, as in all noir, moral certainties become blurred.

Liam McIlvanney is the son of William McIlvanney of Laidlaw fame so it's hard to read this book without drawing comparisons. Like 'Laidlaw' this book concentrates on the seamier side of Glasgow life, the underworld and gangsters for whom violence is a way of life. Both writers are noir-ish in their view of the city and both see justice as something that happens beyond the bounds of courts and law. However, while I found William's picture of '70s Glasgow frighteningly accurate, Liam's portrayal of the present-day city seems somehow outdated. Of course, as in any big city there are still gangs and gangsters in Glasgow, but they don't keep the city in fear the way they once did. I felt Liam overplayed the importance of the gangs and the level of corruption and this detracted from the overall credibility of the story for me. William McIlvanney used Glasgow dialect and speech patterns to brilliant effect in 'Laidlaw'; Liam barely uses dialect at all and I felt this was a distinct lack that prevented the book from being as firmly rooted in the city as it might have been. In fact, this book could really have been set in any big city, whereas in 'Laidlaw' Glasgow was brought uniquely to life.

Unfair to compare father and son, I know, but hard to avoid, especially since Liam McIlvanney has chosen to re-inhabit the territory that his father made his own. Without comparison though, this is a good read on the whole, well written and with strong characterisation. The plot is complex and interesting, although I had a few issues with its credibility and not just the ones I've mentioned already around the portrayal of Glasgow. Overall, though, this is an above average crime/thriller that will certainly encourage me to look out for more of Liam McIlvanney's work in the future. Recommended.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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on 4 September 2013
I haven't read the first book in this series which might be why I wasn't hooked straight away but I've got to say that this book really grew on me while I read it. For the first couple of chapters I kept wondering when the story was going to pick up pace but I grew to appreciate the pace of the story telling. The slower pace made the events feel more realistic, the main character/narrator Gerry is a journalist not a policeman so he doesn't have a team of people to help him make discoveries, and he doesn't have access to all of the details. He makes his discoveries slowly; a newspaper story that doesn't make sense, unusual phone numbers, a policeman who hears thing. The reader gets to feel the frustration that Gerry feels at the lack of progress, this helped me connect with Gerry, I could understand why he had to miss a few of his sons' events, I could see why his marriage fell apart and what could happen to his current relationship without it needing to be spelt out in plain letters.

McIlvanney is quite heavy on the description in parts of this book which I know isn't to everybody's taste, but as somebody who hasn't yet lived in Glasgow or even a city of a similar size for a reasonable length of time I found the detail helped me with getting to grips with elements of the plot and picturing the locations in my mind's eye.

All in all this is decent crime novel, and I'd say this book is well worth a read, especially during a holiday or when you're on a long journey, where you can appreciate the pacing of the plot. Although I haven't read the first book of the trilogy yet I'm going to tentatively recommend reading it and working through the books as the character and story development were really quite enjoyable once I got into the book properly.
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on 9 October 2013
Another new author for me though I do have a copy of his debut novel - All The Colours Of The Town - sitting on the pile of unreads. Where The Dead Men Go is Liam's McIlvanney's second fiction outing and another book concerning his journalist Gerry Conway.
Having recently finished Malcolm Mackay's Glasgow hit-man debut earlier this month, it was strange landing back amongst Glasgow's criminal fraternity this time viewed through the eyes of a hard-bitten hack. There is a common theme with these two books, namely organised crime. Does Glasgow suffer from gangs, drugs and prostitution to a greater or lesser extent than any other inner-city in the UK? Probably not. When the gangland rivalries do explode into violence, Glaswegian style the shadow of bigotry and sectarianism hangs over it, whether as the reason, a factor or as misdirection to confuse the authorities.
Our main man, Gerry Conway has baggage to carry both on a personal front and career-wise. He's back at the struggling Tribune a few years after his sacking and living in a flat with his girlfriend and baby son; whilst maintaining regular contact with his two boys from his failed marriage.
Martin Moir, one time underling of Conway and now the star turn at the Tribune disappears and Conway gets shunted from his desk covering politics to fill the void on the crime desk. He's assigned to report on a shooting on a soccer pitch. The discovery of the victim's identity, threatens a return to the bad old days of feuding and blood-letting as the city's gangs jostle for ascendancy and payback. When the gangland rivalries do explode into violence - Glaswegian style - the shadow of bigotry and sectarianism hangs over it, whether as the reason, a factor or as misdirection to confuse the authorities. The rest of the city braces itself for the backlash in the mean-time.
When Moir's body is found in his car at the bottom of a quarry, Gerry gets the crime gig on a more permanent basis. Moir's death is ruled a suicide, but with Conway and Moir's wife unconvinced, our intrepid reporter digs into Moir's recent investigations and peels back the lid on a can of rotten worms....... murder, prostitution, pay-offs, corruption, dodgy contracts with the crime bosses and politicians as well as the media-hounds all inhabiting the same flea-ridden pit.
Where The Dead Men Go was a superb read and a great introduction to another newish crime author for me. It registered slightly lower on the Richter scale for me than Mackay's Lewis Winter book, but it was extremely enjoyable nonetheless.
4 stars from 5
I gained access to this book via the increasingly useful Net Galley website.
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This is the second in Liam McIIvanney's Conway mysteries and this is a fine example of what a crime thriller should be about. There is a wonderful pulsating pace throughout the book as the Glasgow underworld and all that brings weaves its way through the pages of the novel.

Gerry Conway is the Political Editor of the Sunday Tribune after an enforced absence due to his previous role as the Crime Editor and bringing down a politician and a Gangland Godfather. He looks with some jealousy at his friend and colleague Martin Moir who now holds that job. It is not until he starts to worry about why he has not seen his friend for a few days that things start falling in to place, and when he is found dead it is Gerry who is pressing the police for action, as he runs a counter investigation.

While doing the two jobs of politics and crime while investigating his friends death that brings him in to contact with the leaders of rival crime mobs, which brings him to contact with the leadership of Glasgow City Council. At the same time we are brought in to contact with a lot of "Glasgow baggage", sectarian football support, the split up of the rival gangs, the UVF and UDA, eastern European prostitutes and heroin.

Like all investigative crime journalists this brings him to the attention of all the major players in crime and politics, which always seem entwined, which in turn always means a funeral or two. Conway is so concerned about his own safety and the protection of his own family he has to watch as his partner goes to her parents in New Zealand and his ex-wife's husband accepts a job in Aberdeen.

This is a wonderful crime thriller. But the thrill of this crime novel is in everything that builds to the ending like a crescendo of thunder and lightening. This is a wonderful crime read and well worth reading, as it brings to life the gritty underworld of Glasgow and how some need that underworld belly to survive in their own jobs. While at the same time that criminal underbelly is trying to legitimise the ways in which it makes money, and launders the rest of their own cash.

Great read it - get it as soon as you can.
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on 5 November 2014
There is a surprising amount of description, of scene setting in Liam McIlvanney's novels but so beautifully done that, when noticed, I sigh with envy at his observation and ability to convey such to the reader. Taut, tight-plotted right to the very end and thoroughly entertaining.
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on 6 October 2013
As the book unfolds, the events grow into a dangerous world where we are all too aware how vulnerable we can be. The backdrop of Glasgow, Commonwealth Games and Independence Referendum brings a sense of how the close the book is to real events.
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on 18 December 2013
great book and author i would recommend it. It was great to receive it straight to my kindle i couldn't wait to read it.
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