For those of us who toil in similar areas (I’m currently writing Brit Noir, which will also cover Scottish crime fiction — as, for the moment, Scotland is still part of UK), Len Wanner’s highly accomplished and fastidiously researched book has set the bar very high indeed. Subtitled ‘The Definitive Guide to Scottish Crime Fiction’, Wanner’s study arrives with an encomium from no less than the Godfather of Tartan Noir, William McIlvanney, and that writer’s career is given the kind of forensic attention it so richly deserves. Needless to say, all the expected names from Ian Rankin to Val McDermid and from Denise Mina to Craig Robertson are covered with the kind of attention their work merits, and one of the achievements of the book is its pointing out of how the genre is a far broader church the most readers consider (the image in the popular imagination is largely of criminality in the capital). Wanner is perceptive, too, in identifying the provocative themes the genre has thrown up, but there is one caveat: where the hell is the index? Most readers will want to use the book as a reference work, and this piece of cheeseparing makes that activity difficult. Nevertheless, this is as impressive a survey of the Tartan Noir field as one as likely to find, and I am well aware that Len Wanner has made the task for me concerning the book I’m writing that much tougher (having said that, even before reading Len’s book, I was well aware that I will be producing a snapshot as opposed to Len’s populous canvas).

Tartan Noir by Len Wanner is published by Freight Books

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