And When I Die
Russel D McLean (Contraband, £8.99)
As is his wont, Scottish crime writer McLean dispenses with build-up to dump us straight into the action. A car bomb goes off, blowing up Glasgow gangland hard man Ray Stobie. Shockingly, one of the men responsible is John Grogan, a detective who has been undercover for two years to get close to the Stobies. He’s been in there too long and gone too deep, even becoming briefly engaged to Kat, a Stobie who rejected her family’s violent ways, and who shares in the terror of the ensuing events. Because Ray, who has a rare condition which makes him impervious to pain, has survived the bomb and is stalking Terminator-like around Glasgow intent on revenge. That he now knows John is a cop makes a dangerous situation even more unpredictable. Set mostly over the course of a day, this tense, violent thriller heads towards its climactic confrontation at a relentless pace, while posing tough questions about undercover work and family loyalty.
Loading article content
Life After Dark
Dave Haslam (Simon & Schuster, £8.99)
The world of the superstar DJ isn’t perhaps the first place you’d look if you needed to find a social historian in a hurry, but the Hacienda veteran’s fifth book is a terrific overview of British nightlife reaching back to pre-Victorian times. It’s a celebration of the need of working people to go out, mingle and have fun in the evenings, and an acknowledgement that clubs and ballrooms have been social centres regarded by their communities with pride, like “a university, cathedral or a factory”. From music hall to the superclubs, Haslam sees them all as part of one long continuum, though he does pick out specific clubs which ended up influencing mainstream culture, like the psychedelic cauldron UFO, and Billy’s, birthplace of the New Romantics. He ends this immaculately researched and endlessly informative book with a rundown on the health of contemporary club culture, showing that his historical perspective hasn’t weakened his strong grasp of the here and now.
The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
Vendela Vida (Atlantic, £8.99)
In Casablanca, a 33-year-old American woman gets into a conversation about organisms which evolve rapidly to adapt to changing environments. The topic couldn’t be more apt. Fleeing a painful divorce, she has checked into her hotel to find that she’s been robbed of her wallet and passport. A backpack is found, but it belongs to someone else, so she adopts the owner’s name, Sabine Alyse, for a while. Stumbling across a film crew, she then gets work as a stand-in for a Hollywood star, a job which, it transpires, requires more than just impersonating her on set. Is this a process which will allow her to leave her trauma behind, or an endless degradation of her sense of self? Vida continually discovers new ways to explore the concept of identity, and keeps the reader on edge by writing entirely in the second person and presenting the ease with which her central character slips between personae as both exhilarating and terrifying.