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4.5 out of 5 stars
Lennox
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 December 2010
A cracking start to a potentially great series and a book which further compounds my disbelief that Russell is so underated in the crime genre as his Jan Fabel series is compelling reading! Anyway, I digress, `Lennox' does for 50`s Glasgow what Arnott did for 60`s London with the same assortment of dodgy gangsters, bent coppers and the wonderfully seedy underbelly of post war society. I think what sets this apart is not only the brilliant re-creation of the period but the strength of the characterisation and the blackly comic asides that permeate the book. I liked the fact that Lennox is Canadian and views everything that's thrown at him with the air of an outsider but by the same token how he has overcome this status to mix with some, by and large, unsavoury characters and who is man enough to take a beating! Teamed with a pacy plot this series is one to watch and I will be reading the follow-up 'The Long Glasgow Kiss' forthwith!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Lennox is a hard hitting, no nonesense 'Enquiry Agent' who finds himself, through no fault of his own, in the middle of a turf war. Set in fifties Glasgow, Russell ably conveys the gritty atmosphere of the city - the Second City of the Empire - with only the smog removed today to suggest not much has changed. That's more than likely unfair but I am reminded of McBride and Rankin's description of their respective patches, so I can imagine Glasgow is similar.

However, Lennox has to battle on and he reminds me of a cross between Philip Marlowe and Paul Temple with added aggro. The story is complex if only because the Glasgow gangs themselves seem to fall out in droves, add in some shady foreigners, some flesh parlours and a good dose of police brutality, plenty of bodies, mostly tortured pre-death and this all makes for a great read. Russell wastes no space in keeping the action flowing - usually at the expense of Lennox's well beaten head and his motley collection of so-called friends seem rather less than friendly most of the time. Not to worry, Lennox makes up for this lack of bonhomie with a dry humour all of his own, usually aimed at the benefits of living in Glasgow.

As the final chapters approach, the missing link to these murders becomes clear and what was a murder turns out to be - well, read the book. It should keep you guessing although the clues are there, of course. Lennox will be back, thank goodness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 August 2012
This is terrific crime noir set against the background of gritty 1950s Glasgow. Lennox is a private investigator who is looking for a client's missing wife. When a couple of seedy underworld brothers are murdered, one of Glasgow's crime bosses hires him to look into it. Soon it appears that there are connections between the two cases and that some genuinely nasty professionals may be involved.

The mystery is reasonably compelling, but what really makes this book shine is Lennox's sardonic sense of humour (reminiscent of Bernie Gunther in Philip Kerr's excellent books) and the wonderful sense of place that permeates the story.

This is the first in a series of (currently) four books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, very dark, violent but with a good story attached. My one complaint is that the dialogue doesn't ring true. Although some efforts are made to describe Glasgow patois there is little evidence of it in the way the characters speak, an old tramp aside. It could well be that the "Glesga" accent has been watered down to make it understandable elsewhere at the behest of the publishers, but for me as an ex denizen of the city, I couldn't help thinking that all the "neds" were a touch too well spoken. Although the period setting is pretty authentic (I asked my dad) the author's geography is way out, for example you can't get to the North of Loch Lomond by the Drymen road, and you don't go to Bishopbriggs by the Dumbarton Road so this grated a bit with me. I'm sure that other authors take such liberties with locations which non-locals don't notice, but I just thought that as the author has been praised for his extensive research that this seemed a bit slack. Is he as cavalier with Hamburg in his other novels?

Mind you that is a minor quibble. This is an excellent thriller and with reference to a decent atlas next time Lennox could well enter the pantheon of unmissable British 'tecs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 August 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Using a unique setting, 50's Glasgow, Criag Russell's new character, Lennox looks like having real staying power, given the opportunity for storylines which haven't been explored before, as we encounter the City and its inhabitants as they were before Glasgow got a makeover - tough and uncompromising, with violence never far from the surface.

In this series opener, (and there will be a series) we meet Lennox in a very compromising position, and then we're off and running into a riddle which sees him some into contact with all manner of villians, some of whom are in uniform, all fighting for their place in the crime heirarchy of post war Glasgow.

Russell has created a very believable "hero" in Lennox, and a truly original plot, with only a couple of moments where you might need to suspend disbelief, as the various strands are drawn together. I think we will be seeing a lot more of Lennox.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Lennox" is a wonderful noir, with every classic element present and a clear love for the genre by the author. You can easily tell Craig Russell enjoyed writing "Lennox" and had fun and we as the reader share his enthusiasm. This is the classic hard-boiled story, a private detective with a chip on his shoulder, cynic and bitter with life but with a good heart deep down and his own set of moral rules he lives by.
Ultimately Russell's strict adherence to the genre's tropes is also the book's only flaw. "Lennox" lacks that special touch, something unique, its own identity one might say. This is a fantastic example of the genre in every way but lacking a bit of individuality.
Lennox itself, the anti-hero, is too Marlowe-like only not as likable. The plot is every bit as confusing and complex as Chandler's plots usually were and the genre somewhat requires but ultimately forgettable. The women are either "fatale" or characterization tools to demonstrate the hero's charms but Lennox is far too cold and sexist even for me and trust me, that's saying a lot. The book takes place in Glasgow but I never felt the city as a character. Sure, there's a lot about the Scottish people and the look of the city but you get the feeling the story could have taken place anywhere. Finally, the ending is satisfying but a bit too brief and not as climatic as it could have been. For me all these flaws were minor and boil down to a lack of originality that can easily be fixed in the next books. Russell needs to find his own voice and apply it to the tropes. That's his only flaw. Other than that, "Lennox" is incredibly entertaining, well written and unmissable for fans of the genre. Its a love letter to hard-boiled fiction. A superior read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the story of Lennox, to us that probably should be Captain Lennox. A veteran of the Second World War who is in Glasgow and trying to find out exactly where he belongs.

He belongs in his own working environment, trying to find out about the goings on of people for other people. Legitimately this does not provide him with much money and probably even less excitement. Lennox is what you would call working within and outside the law on his own and mainly the three main gang lords of Glasgow say so.

Lennox is tied up with a seemingly respectable business man whose wife goes missing and he is asked to investigate, but then suddenly turns up, it is all a misunderstanding and then Lennox gets suspicious. An attack down an alley by one of the McGahern twins, a couple of lads who have big ideas on making Glasgow their city, leads Lennox into the life's and pay of the three main gang lords, known as the `Three Kings'.

The story develops with twists and turns, and a missing wife that suddenly turns up married to a business man with warehouses and the underworld dealings of two twins leads us through the dark places of Glasgow and beyond. Memories of the Second World War are still fresh in the characters minds and the setting of the book in 1953 sometimes gets lost as this could be a story which is as relevant today as it was in the early fifties.

The characters are interesting and those that seem irrelevant, generally are but are there for the reader I think to appreciate the depth of Lennox, the `Three Kings' and the setting of the story. The violence is descriptive enough for me to have winced, and if this was television I would have been closing my eyes at some points, but it is there not just for the sake of violence and selling more books but because it represents the dark places cities can have back in the fifties and now.

A book that is obviously going to become a series of some description with the main work of Lennox being the centre of the story, and I look forward to reading more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 September 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The mean streets of Glasgow in the 1950s serve as a fine post-war setting for Craig Russell's hard-edged noir. A tough no-nonsense Private Investigator, Lennox is more than capable of looking after himself, but it so happens in this case that he has the Three Kings, the crime kingpins who have the city carved up between themselves, watching out for his back. Normally Lennox would be more careful of the company he keeps, but in this case he doesn't really have much of a choice - not if he wants to keep his toes attached to his feet.

There's another outfit in town throwing their weight around, picking off some of the smaller players in town, Lennox finding himself involved whether he likes it or not. Nothing however really adds up, and no matter what angle the detective looks at it, it's a messy business involving blackmail, prostitution, pornography, property and shady import-export dealings. Even some heavy backing might not be enough to keep Lennox from taking a long walk off a short bridge over the Clyde.

This first case is a promising opening for Russell's new detective, the rough 50's Glasgow setting not arbitrary or used purely for atmosphere - highly effective though it is and well described by the author - but rather the historical events and attitudes of the post-war period are integral to the case, adding considerable background to the characterisation of Lennox and many of secondary characters. Those actions and attitudes might be brutal and somewhat un-PC, but it's a hard world and the underlying motivations and behaviour here feels authentic. There are no grafted-on hardboiled stylisations here, this is the real-deal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Craig Russell's Lennox self-conciously owes more than a little to Raymond Chandler, with its titular private eye walking a tightrope between the local criminals and the local police, who each vie with each other in the gratuitous violence stakes, to make a living. He's no Philip Marlowe, but the plot at times feels like it could be one of Marlowe's cast-offs, taking in various street thugs, brothels, sanatoriums, blackmailing ex-prostitutes and assorted losers and little people getting caught up in the mix. But Lennox lacks Marlowe's bruised knight errant decency and is never quite as well drawn as he might be - beyond being a Canadian who ended up washed up in Glasgow after the Second World War for reasons he seems vague about himself and the odd mention of losing his pre-war innocence and idealism there's not much to him. He's really just there to be a guide to 1952 Glasgow's vividly realised underworld and to act as a focal point for the story.

Luckily the story is pretty good, seeing him hired by one of the city's 'Three Kings' to find out who murdered an up-and-coming thug while also doggedly continuing his own investigations into a missing person who suddenly reappears after he's been paid off. Violence is generally the engine that drives the story, be it murder, the odd beating or the threat of worse, and Craig Russell keeps it all moving along swiftly enough for the lack of anyone we can really care about not to matter too much. There are some nice vignettes along the way - one dying gangster, on being told by a cop that he'll survive a vicious shooting, refuses to name his killer because in that case he'll sort him out himself - and it's a page turner in the best way but hopefully any future cases will see Lennox himself given as much depth and character as the city and its supporting cast of thugs with dirty mugs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Definitely not the sort of book I read, but this excellent novel hooked me with its pacy and occasionally witty style.

The protagonist is a private eye character in 1950s Glasgow, when that city was recovering from wartime and the second half of the century was getting under way with many major events. Without spoiling the story, it involves murderous twists and turns in the underworld of that time. I gave this some thought and decided that the author's device of making Lennox a Canadian was a bonus, as was writing other characters' dialogue without the heavy Glasgow patter. The reader isn't left looking for a translation for the heavy Glaswegian dialect.

One gripe many could have is when a novel isn't accurate with place and street names in a city that they know. The author obviously knows his stuff and has accurately described areas and roads in Glasgow, so that's one area a poorer writer may have stumbled.

In summary, it is a well executed page turner in the detective fiction genre, certainly head and shoulders above some of the lesser pulp novels. I'm giving it five stars for the whole package as all the elements in this book seem to have come together to make it into the finished article. Characterisation and accuracy are excellent, so it's definitely thumbs up from me for Graig Russell's book
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