Gus Dury is back on the bevvy - and no bloody wonder after what happened in book 3. Not only is he back on the drink but he's in hospital and in a bad way after being run down by an old lady on a mobility scooter. When his best friend Hod visits and asks him to help him investigate the death of a student - son of a high-profile actress, Gus is reluctant - let's face it, his career as a PI hasn't turned out very well for him so far, has it? However, since he feels partly responsible for the cash-strapped state in which Hod currently finds himself, he agrees. One more bad decision in a whole string of bad decisions. Sometimes it feels as though nothing Gus does is ever going to be right. For me he's a thoroughly noir protagonist. He's constantly trying to dig himself out of a hole that's too big for him to scrabble out of. What's more, fate is standing giggling at the top, shovelling in more earth on top of him. And, when someone does finally throw down a shovel, it hits Gus on the head. This is a very dark book, but relieved by Gus' cynical, self-deprecating humour. After this entry in the series, I want a little gladness for Gus. Wonderful stuff.
In Tony Black's Long Time Dead , journalist turned reluctant private investigator Gus Dury is in the gutter again but he's still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky.
Long Time Dead starts off with Gus waking up in hospital, after a particularly prolific drinking session, and being told that he's close to knocking on heaven's door. Gus, of course, ignores the doctor's advice and immediately checks out of the hospital. After a little arm-twisting, he decides to help out his best friend, Hod, and investigate the suspicious death by hanging of a famous actress' son.
While sniffing around, Gus finds a rancid trail that leads from the top end of Edinburgh society down into its murky sewers. And back again.
Punch-drunk and booze addled, Gus' shoulders have more chips than Harry Ramsden and he just can't stop kicking against the pricks with his puke encrusted Doc Martins.
Gus isn't for everyone, of course, and his scatter shot bile can be wide of the mark - a man wearing eyeliner, how shocking Gus!- but when he's on target you're with him all the way.
LONG TIME DEAD is another urban classic from Tony Black and fans of the previous Gus Dury books - Paying For It, Gutted & Loss - won't be disappointed.
This is the 4th Gus Dury novel and he has hit an all time low, separated from his wife, haunted by questions from his childhood and drinking himself literally into an early grave but fortunately he still has his friends around him although Hod has fallen on hard times and owes money to a local shark, Shaky. Gus reluctantly agrees to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy and well connected student to bail Hod out of his predicament. What follows is a hard hitting, gritty delve into the Edinburgh under and over world, it's hard to know which one to like least. Gus hits bottom and for a while carries on going, seemingly committed to his self destruction if it means getting the answers he wants and needs.
I've chased through five Tony Black books in a matter of weeks since picking up Gutted by chance (a very happy one). It's the best writing I've read all year and is right up there with my favourite authors. I'm a big fan of Ian Rankin, Tony Black's books are, I feel, as good - they are a different style and feel and I have room for both authors on my shelf. I find myself trying to slow down and enjoy the prose but cannot help but charge through to the end, the narrative really draws you in. The characters are excellent (Mac the Knife was hardly in this story which is a bit of a shame but a vv minor comment) and very well developed, the dialogue is sharp, with a well balanced amount of local slang that paints a picture without managing to lose you. Overall really, really good stuff. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Mr Black I strongly suggest you do. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Long Time Dead is Tony Black's fourth blood dripping, alcohol fuelled Gus Dury novel. Railing at every conceivable slight on his beloved Edinburgh, from over-privileged, arrogant students at the university to the influx of culture vultures at the festival who happily pay out four quid for a 'mocha' while wading their way through the litter strewn, seagull haven of the Royal Mile, Dury once again becomes embroiled in the search for the truth surrounding a young boy's death, sending him tumbling down the blood soaked cobbles of the city. Black's depiction of the one-time hot-shot reporter, hitting the bottle harder than ever after separating from Debs, his on/off partner, is often harrowing reading but, the hopeless state of the alcoholic, impervious to the help and advice from those who love him, hell-bent on self-destruction, is masterly drawn by Black. The Scottish psyche, one fond of black humour and fatalism, is found in Long Time Dead, caught up in a barbed wire cage, still hoping for escape but, at the same time, flying into the barbs of its prison, knowing that it will never be free. Dury has a spirit that will not die, no matter how much the odds are stacked up against him but, at the same time, he rushes full-pelt down the dark tunnel of despair and self-loathing, determined to wipe himself off the face of the planet just to prove he can. If you've not read any of this series, please don't read them out of order, but read them for some of the best crime writing happening in Scotland now.
Tony Black's style of writing gives the feel that you are following the main character's, Gus Dury, flow of thoughts with him and that as events unfold you are experiencing them at the same time.
Gus Dury himself though has an immense background of a drinking problem, a lost career and a troubled childhood. Through his strong and convincing writing, Black pulls this round so that on the other side there is a compassionate, educated and witty man who develops into a very likeable character.
The plot moves along at a strong pace and flows extremely smoothly until it climaxes at the very end! Should you buy the book???? HELL.... YEAAAAH!!!! ... and then get in line for the next one!
Gus Drury undercover at Edinburgh university uncovers a gripping tale of underground activities involving an actress and her crooked son. It's a class struggle and a murder mystery in one. Another top story from the brightest new kid on the scottish crime block.