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on 7 January 2012
Those who know me will be very much aware of the great respect and admiration I have for Allan Guthrie, for his writing and for his humanity. I'll not say more. What I need to add is that Hilda's Big Day Out may not seem immediately to be something all Guthrie or Crime-book fans should have, but it most definitely is.

You get four stories in this collection - the main attraction and three bonus tracks.

First off comes Hilda's Big Day Out.

This was first published in The Sunday Mail, no less.

It opens with the peculiarities of a New Year's Day dip, something all the more apt for me as I was one of the lunatics who plunged into the North Sea this year.

We meet Hilda. If you've read Guthrie before, it'll be like a reunion with an old friend and if you haven't you should get to be better acquainted.

This time Hilda has her own voice. She's the story-teller and she has a great story to tell. As her owner rests on the beach, Hilda is kidnapped by a man who thinks he needs a three-legged dog.

Using the dog as the main voice must have been challenging, but Guthrie surpasses himself in the description he uses from the perspective of our three-legged friend.

The lighter opening tones darken for a while and by the end of the tale, the result is utterly satisfying.

The next story, Your Mother Should Know, is a piece that Chris Rhatigan and I were honoured to include in our Pulp Ink anthology last year. It's full of atmosphere, a kind of humidity to my mind, as it tells the tale of a young girl whose life is tricky and for whom their aren't many solutions. What I love about this one is that it's set in the States and shows the amazing versatility of voice of the author, one of which I'd love to see him expand in the near future. Early Sissy Spacek comes to mind for this one.

Next is Bye Bye Baby, the sperm and egg that came to form the very successful novella. It's a story that keeps up the power of the opening salvo.

Finally we come to 'Call Me I'm Dying'. It's from 'A Hell Of A Woman: An Anthology Of Female Noir' (edited by Megan Abott and Val McDermid. It brings the collection to a nicely-rounded finish as another canine gets a brief mention. What you get is a head-to-head between an extremely unusual man and his guest as they celebrate their tenth anniversary over their dinner. This one's electric. Full of power. By the time the metaphorical explosive package is revealed, the story already had me hooked. Sparse, sharp and a brilliant example of what can be done when all the flab is cut from a narrative.

It's a great collection all round and a testament to the genius of the man at the helm.

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on 7 January 2012
Hilda, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, tells a short story of abduction and adventure. The Dandie Dinmont is a breed included on the Kennel Club's list of Vulnerable Native Breeds, so it's good to see the breed highlighted to increase extra interest in this old Scottish breed.

Allan Guthrie's excellent works are exceptionally well written, gritty, hard boiled noir thrillers - this story is fast paced, punchy and has a twist to the tale but in a much gentler vein than usual.

A very entertaining quick read with a handful of other short stories thrown in as a bonus - don't miss it!
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on 15 January 2014
A fine collection of stories. Hilda's Day Out is highly unusual, we see the action from a dog's perspective (Hilda). He's kidnapped to cheer up a little girl. It's very, very well done. The dog has a dialogue (barking to the humans) and his view of the world is a happy, naive one and dominated by sounds and smells. Smartly done.

Then there's Mother Should Know. A girl who's experienced little in life meets a boy and tries to impress him, but it doesn't work out well.

Bye Bye Baby is a psychological thriller which is also separately published as a novella with the same title. However this is the original and is written from the mother's perspective. Her 7 year old son has gone missing from school and two police constables investigate. Well done with a good twist.

Finally Call Me I'm Dying constructed in a bit of a trademark fashion whereby time is ticking away throughout. A man and woman are having an anniversary dinner but everything is not as it seems. For one the pair only meet once a year and run through a routine. Then the man receives a call, he's told he'll be dead inside 30 minutes. Tense, clever stuff.
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on 7 January 2012
Told entirely from a dog's point of view with stunning skill. Guthrie shows a sharp eye for aspects of misunderstanding between humans and dogs, and his marvelously enjoyable story puts the squeeze on the reader right from the start. The author doesn't have to turn the dog into some pathetic pet to have it come across nothing short adorable: Hilda is the real deal, the teflon tough version of a man's best friend, and lives life through the nose. Throughout Hilda's bittersweet adventure, the reader also finds himself spared a bungee-jump off the bridge of predictable noir formula: this story is a very clever, very different entree to deeply dark matters, and keeps us persuaded that something bad is about to happen even with a cute, three-legged dog around. Hilda steals most of the attention simply by being hungry, and naïve. You want to applaud that perfect, tough-nosed dog and its gracefully succeeding creator. With three glowing bonus stories in this edition - what else could you ask for?
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on 23 February 2013
This is a tasty little collection from Allan Guthrie. The first yarn stars Hilda the three-legged dog who co-stars in Guthrie's brutal novels Hard Man, Two-Way Split and Kill Clock. Told from Hilda's perspective this shaggy dog tale of a kidnapping/ dognapping is great fun. Other stories in the collection include the harrowing and brilliant Bye, Bye Baby - a moving glimpse of crime from the victims points of view, and Your Mother Should Know, which was included in the first Pulp Ink anthology. Every one a gem!
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on 6 January 2012
Kidnapped from his owner, notorious Edinburgh hard man Pearce, Hilda the three-legged Dandie-Dinmont goes on an adventure. A wonderful short story, this has a lighter tone than Guthrie's other titles - which you should read anyway - but nevertheless shines a torch on the murky depths of the human condition.
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on 16 April 2012
Classic Guthrie! This is great crime story told from a unique perspective. Takes a little shift to get used to it, but once you're in you gotta keep going! 5 stars!
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on 8 December 2012
Master story teller reworks one of his novels as a short story. I bought this from Amazon for my Kindle. I'd like Amazon even more if they paid their tax.
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on 17 January 2015
Enjoyed Hilda's Big Day Out but felt let down a bit by the other stories but worth a read through just for the smile factor.
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on 12 February 2014
this is a good book to pick up and read.not a bad selection of books. have enjoyed reading them. easy reading.
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