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on 24 June 2009
A great author, this is his second Gus Drury novel. Gus Drury is a ex-journalist in Edinburgh who while out one night falls onto a gutted body. Immediately he is a suspect, and what makes it worse is the detective investigating is dating his ex-wife. This is a dark and shady view of Edinburgh, but so well portrayed.
Gus is one of those characters that you love as he doesn't have special training, he drinks too much, yet, he is a ex-journalist so you know he will put his nose in to get a story. The situations seem very real and you hope he will always come out on top.
Think Tony Black is a fantastic writer and is going on to great things, recommend all give this a read. This had me hooked from the beginning and then raced through a great story, and left me wanting more.
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on 9 October 2014
Gus Dury, everyone's favourite jakey ex-journalist-turned-investigator gets himself in to yet more trouble!!
Whilst on a stake-out to break up a badger-baiting ring, Gus stops a group of yobs torturing a dog and gets a hiding for his trouble. He wakes up covered in blood after stumbling in to the body of a recently-murdered member of one of the local gangs.

What follows is extraordinary as Gus battles corrupt cops, gangsters, mounting debts, his ex-wife and his own not-insubstantial drink problems.

Gus is an oddly likable character, despite his flaws, and Tony Black writes without ever asking for sympathy for the character.

As ever, the dialogue is heavy in the dialect of the Edinburgh area but that adds to the realism of the book.

I loved this and can't wait to start on the next one.
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on 24 September 2014
I love all Tony Black's books but the Gus Dury books are just fantastic!! Gus is a broken and damaged guy but you just have to love him. The stories are hard hitting gritty with unbelievably funny black humour. Hope their will be more of Gus am completely hooked on him. Come on Tony!!! When is the new one?
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on 18 March 2013
As I understand it, tourists flock to visit the Edinburgh that Ian Rankin has created in the Rebus novels. Tony Black's Edinburgh, however, is something else and anyone embarking on the 'Gus Dury tourist trail' is likely to need their head examined - this dark Edinburgh underworld is not for the faint of heart.

This story opens in the dead of night on Corstophine Hill, where Dury is on the lookout for badger baiters - but he stumbles across a dead body instead. Reporting his discovery, it becomes apparent that the police would prefer to charge him with the murder rather than look for the real culprit. So, he takes it upon himself to do their job for him.

Dury drinks and smokes to stay alive. Food and human warmth are accidental incidentals - he'll enjoy them when placed in front of him, but he won't go looking for them. Impulsive and antagonistic, he approaches his task with all the finesse of a drunken bull in a china shop. But integrity is his middle name, and the battle, as ever, is between honesty and corruption.

This novel races along at a cracking pace, and is mostly set in the deprived areas of Edinburgh. There's a lot of fighting, which makes it quite a man's book (if there's more than two punches and two people, I struggle to follow the sequence and almost have to draw a diagram). It's very readable and whilst I probably wouldn't want to spend any time with Dury, I did enjoy the story and look forward to seeing how Dury develops in the series.
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VINE VOICEon 13 October 2010
Not having read Tony Black's first outing with Gus Dury, I didn't quite know what to expect, though the reviews and blurb suggested nothing if not an interesting new character to take on board. I was not disappointed. Dury is, of course, a deeply flawed man, an alcoholic ex-hack with a nose, when not oblivious to the outside world, for a good story.

That the story he unveils brings him into conflict with both sides of the law, only causes pain and grief for just about everyone. Even the dog is not immune but Black manages to bring most of his characters to a satisfying conclusion.

I'm just wondering if there are any cheap and cheerful authors from Scotland these days? The principal cities detailed in the current throughput of novels suggests Scotland is far from the glowing adverts and haunting music of the pipes generally portrayed. However, this story of dog fights, heavyweight criminals, corrupt police and, of course, dissolute anti-heroes didn't have to be set in Edinburgh; I can think of plenty of English cities where such conditions exist today.

Anyway, the story is a good one. Dury is an oddball character who manages, against all received wisdom, to sort out a result. I know there is the third book now available but I am wondering if Dury's liver will last the length of the new book. He drinks for Scotland, it seems causing much anguish for his close circle of friends, his ex-wife and some concern for his new found friend, the dog.

As a stand alone book, it works well. Dury's past is set out in bits and pieces throughout this book so newcomers, like me, get to understand the background of his relationships. This helps considerably and makes me want to find a copy of 'Loss' as soon as I can.

All-in-all, another Scottish writer to add to my growing list of 'must reads'.
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on 3 September 2009
A beautifully developed murder-mystery plot with lovingly detailed flawed characters, told in a genuine, easy working-man's Scots vernacular with a wide enough vocabulary to surpass Trainspotting as the new informal Leith writer's glossary.

Black earns his way into the ranks of the top Tartan Noir creators with the dark, occasionally maudlin hard-boiled alcoholic Gus Dury. In this, Dury's second outing, he shows he has the legs to carry a series. Dury's reckless curiosity embroils him in a murder mystery that nobody really wants to solve, and the police seem to be more interested in pinning the crime on him than on making even the most cursory of investigations themselves. He must solve the crime himself or go down for it.

But that's just the beginning. Through his combination of bad luck, dogged persistence, and recklessness born, apparently, of self-loathing, Dury manages to have himself framed for multiple murders, pursued and beaten up by small-time hoods, big-time hoods, and the police. His friends are concerned, his enemies awestruck by his self-destructiveness, partly represented by his late-stage alcoholism, and partly by his apparent eagerness to take yet another beating. Yet he's irresistibly lovable because he holds fast to his own principles, and ultimately to the people who mean the most to him.
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on 13 February 2015
There’s always a risk in taking on a new author, even in a genre that suggests you should enjoy the book. The quotes on the backs of books are usually unanimous in their praise and can’t be relied upon to be an accurate judge of the quality between the covers. But when an author is compared to others you already know are great writers, this does raise the expectation level a little. This is not always a good thing.

Gus Dury is a former journalist, down on his luck and living most of his life at the bottom of a bottle, and the rest at the bottom of a pint glass. He’s running his deceased friend’s pub, but not terribly well and he’s drinking more profit than he’s making. One night, hearing a commotion on a hill and going to investigate, he literally stumbles across a murder victim. Found at the scene with blood on his hands, he immediately becomes a suspect. His motive seems clear, as the victim was also robbed of a large amount of money, which would cure Dury’s debt problems.

The victim was working for one of Edinburgh’s main gang leaders who is understandably upset about the missing money and is keen to ensure he gets it back. The police are also keen to pin the murder on Dury, especially as the lead officer is involved with Dury’s ex-wife and so has personal as well as professional reasons for wanting him out of the way. With the police sure the case is closed, Dury has to cast a bleary and bloodshot investigative eye over proceedings to clear his name.

This is a wonderfully paced book, not letting up for a moment. Black writes in similar short chapters to James Patterson which helps keep the pages turning. That said, even without this, it would still feel like a fast paced story, as Black has a good eye for keeping the action moving along. Even in the slower moments, there is still plenty happening and there is a sense that the next piece of excitement isn’t too far away. This makes it quite a tough story to tear yourself away from.

Despite knowing little about the life Black describes, there is quite an authentic feel to the story. Many of the characters have a false bravado and others have a despairing, beaten down quality to them. The dialogue always feels realistic, no matter who is speaking to who and there are some quite entertaining moments when Dury is swapping insults with the police. There’s one especially lovely moment where, referring to trees, Dury remarks ‘’don’t ask me what kind – I’m from Leith’’, which felt like a wonderful throwaway line adding a touch of humour to what can be quite a dark tale at times.

This isn’t one for the squeamish, as it delves into Edinburgh’s darker recesses and there are several nasty killings. It opens with the discovery of a corpse and gets worse from there, with dog fights as entertainment and potential witnesses being removed from the game permanently. There is one especially gruesome scene where a man has his throat ripped out by a couple of dogs that Black describes in such detail that it has the ability to turn the reader’s stomach as it did Dury’s.

Unfortunately, as well written and as occasionally disturbing as it is, the book did feel a little light and lacking in punch, even allowing for the number of them Dury throws. Perhaps due to the quick pace, much seemed skimmed over and there wasn’t a lot of mystery involved. Everything was presented for the reader and there was little depth. What disappointed me most was the ending, which seemed unlikely and unsatisfying and didn’t seem in keeping with much that had gone before.

This isn’t a bad read, perfect for a time when you don’t want to concentrate too hard on things. But like the alcohol which provides most of Dury’s calorific intake, it may be filling for a while but you find yourself wanting and needing a little bit more. ‘’Gutted’’ is entertaining enough, but despite the occasional nice touch on show, there is better available.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of,,, and
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on 14 September 2009
Excellent book, couldn't put it down. 'Part 2' in the life of Gus Dury, an ex-journalist come investigator and an alcoholic who gives the Police a run for their money yet again. Wonder what will happen to him between now and the next book, and if he will finally get back with his Debs!
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on 2 July 2009
Gus is a hard headed, but soft hearted ex journalist and alcoholic and we meet him again in this second outing from Tony Black. The owner of a pit bull terrier, that savaged and killed a little 3 year old girl, is found murdered on an Edinburgh hill by Gus, as he just happens to stumble upon him whilst he was investigating a ruckus involving some thugs torturing a dog, which then decides, after being rescued, that he's Gus's best friend! Gus decides to investigate the murder and finds himself being targeted by the police for the crime and to make matters worse his ex Deb is about to marry one of them.

Another cracker of a read; I again couldn't put the book down and I read it in a very short time. The pace and action is unrelenting and we get to see more of what made Gus's relationship with Deb's tick. I find myself feeling like fighting along side Gus all the way when coming up against his enemies and I'm a pacifist, but the injustices and cruel beatings are hard to take, although at times Gus does seem to take them in his stride. Some of the reading was a little difficult to read because of the subject matter surrounding the fighting pit bulls, but don't let that put you off. An excellent gripping read.
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on 19 January 2013
This is my first Tony Black novel and will certainly not be my last. The character of Gus Drury is a no-nonsense, dark and nasty character who somehow manages to be a likable rogue who you can readily identify with. I loved the pace and narrative of the book and being a resident of Edinburgh it really helps - although it's not a prerequisite - with creating the sense of drama in and around some of the scenes.
I have already purchased Loss and cannot wait to get stuck into this.
Black & Drury, a definite force to be reckoned with!
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