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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just 'Crime Fiction'
William McIlvanney's 1983 novel The Papers Of Tony Veitch was his second (of three) to feature the gritty maverick, Glasgow-based detective Jack Laidlaw, following his debut in Laidlaw and prior to his third incarnation in Strange Loyalties. On the face of it, these novels could be regarded as 'mere crime fiction', but this is far from the truth. Acting as a clear (and...
Published on 17 May 2012 by Keith M

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Like listening to Mc ilvanney but find these books rather depressing in content. However, well written and readable
Published 4 days ago by margie


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just 'Crime Fiction', 17 May 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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William McIlvanney's 1983 novel The Papers Of Tony Veitch was his second (of three) to feature the gritty maverick, Glasgow-based detective Jack Laidlaw, following his debut in Laidlaw and prior to his third incarnation in Strange Loyalties. On the face of it, these novels could be regarded as 'mere crime fiction', but this is far from the truth. Acting as a clear (and acknowledged) influence for the later writing of Ian Rankin (with his Rebus series of novels), McIlvanney transcends genre in these books, which are full of brilliant (and, one suspects, entirely authentic) characterisations, whether they be of bent coppers, hardened criminals or innocent civilians, together with a biting thread of dark humour. Indeed, it is this edge of black comedy which, for me, probably distinguishes the Laidlaw novels from Rankin's Rebus tales - a characteristic which (though not originating from the region myself) seems to me to be a (perhaps subtle) difference between the cultures of the two cities Glasgow and Edinburgh - in effect, the Glaswegian take on life is along the lines of 'life may be tough, but you've got to see the funny side of it'.

In fact, one of the main criticisms I would have of McIlvanney's Laidlaw novels is that they are not long enough. At around the 250-300 page mark, McIlvanney does a (particularly) brilliant job at his character (and, indeed, plot) development - but I can't help thinking that if he extended the books to say around the 400-500 page mark (as did Rankin in his later Rebus novels) they would be even greater works. In the Papers Of Tony Veitch, McIlvanney attempts to create around 15 or so significant characters, including the hard-bitten, married (but, typically, separated) Laidlaw, his sidekick Brian Harkness, a smattering of corrupt cops and a deliciously portrayed collection of Glasgow's underworld criminals led by gang-leaders John Rhodes and Cam Colvin. What follows is a relatively straightforward tale of murder, betrayal and retribution, but always peppered with McIlvanney's (principally via central character Laidlaw's) studied and reflective passages and his brilliantly witty observations on life.

There is no doubt in my mind that, had MicIlvanney wanted to, he could have used his Laidlaw character to deliver him just as successful a series of novels as Ian Rankin did with John Rebus. It is also arguably the case that McIlvanney had an even richer seam of Scottish life to mine with his setting of Glasgow, one which this author depicts with a vital sense of realism, poetic realism, even, such as in the following extract from this novel, 'It was a place so kind it would batter cruelty into the ground'.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish Crime, 22 Jun 2013
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Completely gripping and wonderfully written!loved the fact is was set in Glasgow. Seldom do you read a who done it with such wonderful vocabulary. I'd never had to use the dictionary on my Kindle before. Fantastic!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wordsmith, 4 July 2013
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McIlvanney is a true wordsmith using the language in an apparently effortless way to create characters with depth and to describe a city of variety and contradictions. These contradictions are reflected in the main character and give an extra dimension to a brilliant crime story. Reading this book you will enjoy a cracking good tale but you will also savour the richness of language and the description of characters through the expert use of well chosen words crafted by an expert story teller. A great read on many levels.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Travels, 15 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This is the second book featuring Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw, where he once again travels the mean streets of Glasgow, trying to find Tony Veitch, a young student who may have killed an alcoholic vagrant and a criminal. Down and outs, titled ladies, and middle class students mingle with the hard men of the Glasgow underworld in ever changing alliances as Laidlaw and Harkness, his sergeant, try to get at the truth of two, then three, deaths. There are seemingly no heroes in this world, not even Laidlaw himself, who is laid even more bare to the reader by Harkness's perceptions of him, but one does emerge. Laidlaw's, and McIlvanney's, heroes are the middle aged to elderly working class women who have held home and family together through depression, war, and overwhelming change in the world. The personification here is Jinty Adamson, the alcoholic's sister, who was always his family, his island of calm, in the raging sea of his life. An engrossing read which is very literary, yet is an exceptional police procedural story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, 12 July 2013
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loved this book about glasgow gangsters and the laidlaw character.the glasgow patter was brilliant, will read a lot more of william mcllvanney,s books
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and poetic detective fiction, 22 Oct 2014
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The book is pretty dark and sometimes gloomy and the plot is nothing out of the ordinary.
It will do little to enhance Glasgow as a tourist destination if readers don't realise that it harks back a generation to the days of the
Glasgow hard men, who hopefully are now less in evidence, although Ian Rankin has dragged some of them into the lime-light more recently.
However, it is wonderfully written, with some of the best one liners that you will find anywhere, and a wordiness that sometimes made me resort to the Kindle dictionary.
I feel that Scottish readers may get more out of the vernacular than I did.
There must be a niche in fiction for a happy detective with a fulfilled home life, certainly Laidlaw is not one.
I certainly intend to read the third part of the trilogy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A lot of what passes for intellectuality is just polysyllabic prejudice."--Laidlaw.., 24 Sep 2014
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Papers of Tony Veitch (Laidlaw 2) (Laidlaw Trilogy) (Paperback)
(4.5 stars) In the second of the three Laidlaw novels, written between 1977 and 1992, author William McIlvanney, considered the "father of Tartan noir," continues a series that is so masterfully written that calling his novels "noir mysteries" underestimates their universal literary power. Though few American readers know of these now-classic novels, Europa Editions has decided to change that by reprinting all of them, and anyone who has ever enjoyed a noir novel or who loves mysteries is in for a rare treat. McIlvanney's ability to describe, to connect even the homeliest and most ordinary details to the grand themes of literature, to create unique characters who linger in the memory, and to make his plots come alive, often with humor, is rare, if not unparalleled.

Laidlaw, a Glasgow policeman, is, like so many noir "heroes," alienated, unfaithful to his wife, often inebriated in private life, and willing to do whatever is necessary to secure justice for its own sake. He sees injustice within the "polis" system almost as often as he does in the criminal world, which he investigates tirelessly, never coming to easy conclusions which would end a troublesome case, even when encouraged to do so by his superiors. His assistant, young Brian Harkness, has "an almost irresistible compassion for him. Laidlaw came on hard... sometimes gave the impression that if God turned up he'd want Him to take a lie-detector test." Still, Harkness recognizes how much Laidlaw cares about people and hurts for them.

As Laidlaw begins to investigate the deaths of two men, the author introduces a wide range of characters - a reporter for the Glasgow Herald; Laidllaw's wife (with whom he lives some of the time but from whom he is emotionally estranged); the overlapping social groups which connect through the local bars; the "hard men" who control crime and enforce their wills on the populace; the police department with its rivalries; the prostitutes, college students, and young people experimenting with political philosophies; and the "urban Bedouins," like drifter Eck Adamson. The unique local dialects used by the different groups appear in their conversations, adding to the atmosphere, while occasionally slowing down the action as the reader must "translate" what the characters are saying. As is so often the case, one of the senior police officers is keeping an eye on Laidlaw, insisting that Laidlaw inform him of whatever he is investigating so he himself can take all credit for any success.

Lively and atmospheric scenes, filled with unforgettable descriptions, keep the novel on a literary plane rare for mystery writing. McIlvanney, a former teacher, includes some history, poetry, references to artwork, and song lyrics to add to the mood of the narrative, going beyond the obvious and the ordinary to present a complete picture of life in Glasgow. The plot of this novel is more complex than it is in the earlier novel, Laidlaw, and the depiction of Laidlaw himself grows here as he refuses to be satisfied with an "approximation of the truth" when he believes the "facts" might have been manipulated. The Papers of Tony Veitch is a top notch noir mystery, a continuation of the series which even newcomers will enjoy on all its many levels.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A love letter to a city..., 20 Jan 2014
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Papers of Tony Veitch (Laidlaw 2) (Laidlaw Trilogy) (Paperback)
Tony Veitch has disappeared and it seems like half the city is looking for him. Laidlaw's one of the searchers. He knows why he's looking for Tony - his name's come up in connection with Eck Adamson, a drunk and down-and-out, now dead; and it seems Laidlaw's the only man who cares. But Laidlaw doesn't know why some of Glasgow's hardest men seem to be wanting to find Veitch too, and the question is - who'll find him first?

After being stunned by the first in the trilogy, Laidlaw, I approached this with some caution, for fear it couldn't match up. But it does. We're back in Laidlaw's world - a good man trying to make sense of the hard and violent world he inhabits, trying to find justice for the people left on the margins. He's not a loner, exactly, but he stands a little apart from the world - an observer with a compassionate eye, a philosopher. He's not a team player - how could anyone live up to the exacting standards he sets? Even he continually fails to be the man he'd like to be, and his self-awareness won't let him hide from that.

The language is wonderful. It slips in and out of dialect seamlessly and the dialogue catches the tone and patterns of Glaswegian speech in a way I've never come across before. I can hear these people speak - hear the humour and the bravado and the aggression. He shows beautifully the odd mix of the Glaswegian character, with its kindness that must always be kept carefully hidden for fear of seeming soft. His villains are frighteningly hard without ever tipping over into caricature, and the ever-present threat of violence is chillingly believable.

" 'Coulda made something o' himself. But a luckless man. All his days a luckless man. The kinna man woulda got two complimentary tickets for the Titanic.' The unintentional humour of her remark was like her natural appetite for life reasserting itself. Harkness couldn't stop smiling. It was as if Glasgow couldn't shut the wryness of its mouth even at the edge of the grave."

The plotting is complex and takes a different direction than the reader is at first led to expect. Tony is from a privileged background, in the financial sense, though not perhaps in terms of love. But somehow he's got himself mixed up with the underworld of gangs and hardmen and now his life seems to be in danger. As Laidlaw hunts for him, the reader gradually gets to see different aspects of Glaswegian society, from Tony's rich, successful but cold father to the gangsters dispensing their own form of justice towards anyone they feel has betrayed them.

But oddly, what this story is most about is love. The love of a sister for the brother who has fallen through life's cracks into alcoholism and vagrancy. The love of a son which leads him to try to protect his parents from learning the truth about his brother. The love for a woman, which can lead a man to destroy his life. And most of all, the love of a city - the clear-sighted, complicated yet profound love that Laidlaw has for this place of contradictions where kindness and cruelty meet head-on. Glasgow, as the sum of its people good and bad, is the character that is at the heart of the book and McIlvanney makes us weep and rejoice for it in equal measure. A love letter from a man who sees the violence and darkness of the city, but also sees it as a place of courage and heart and humour - and ultimately integrity. A great book that gets my highest recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars if chandler had been born in kilmarnock, 14 May 2014
By 
dr ian (london, uk) - See all my reviews
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an exceptional book, along with 'Laidlaw' one of the classics of tartan noir: humane, hard, well written, funny. a more lyrical, gallus west coast counterpoint to rankin's fifer rebus stories, and a genuinely perceptive bit of literature. if you haven't read mcilvanney, it's a must.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 24 Mar 2014
McIlvanney is a very underrated crime writer who captures the mood and humour of the time the book was written.
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The Papers of Tony Veitch (Laidlaw 2) (Laidlaw Trilogy)
The Papers of Tony Veitch (Laidlaw 2) (Laidlaw Trilogy) by William McIlvanney (Paperback - 3 Jun 2013)
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