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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All the clichés of the town, 27 April 2010
This review is from: All the Colours of the Town (Paperback)
Ostensibly a page-turning thriller, it is perhaps churlish to suggest that Liam McIlvanney's debut novel is formulaic in structure and characterization. Yet clichés abound, especially the central character, the smoking, drinking, divorced father-of-two journalist whose lack of self-respect is matched only by his disdain for the new management of his newspaper. The novel's originality, therefore, lies in its subject matter, a detective story straddling the overlapping (loyalist) gangster cultures of Belfast and Glasgow. For those primarily interested in this seedy underworld, the novel's shortcomings should be embraced as an emanation of what it depicts. The pen portraits of particular characters closely resemble real life examples, and the depiction of the seedier side of an Scottish Orange parade is disconcertingly convincing. The novel remains, however, bound by rules that in the end serve to obscure rather than reveal. The Americanised Scottish slang of the main characters might have some validity in reality, but in this story its use amplifies creative shortcomings. The emphasis on action throughout is at the expense of explanation, the conclusion being far too brief, unsatisfying and unclear. And in the end, it is hard to care too much about political scandal involving an increasingly forgotten conflict and a devolved parliament that even one of the novel's characters admits is unpopular and irrelevant.
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Location: Northern Ireland, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 182,807