Glasgow’s brutal history was ‘created’ by endemic poverty and squalor which brutalised the population in the period 1900-32. The context of hard physical work and grinding poverty led to the infamous Glasgow ‘Razor’ gangs. The outbreak of the First World War channelled this reckless, fearless violence into trench warfare with heroic results. The tragedy of the post-war era was that Glasgow’s economy collapsed and crime, hopelessness and nihilism became characteristic.
This brilliant novel builds on Glasgow’s history. It welds together the slums, the Depression, criminality, a police force which behaved like an occupying army, and a no-nonsense police inspector with a sturdy sergeant both of whom were WW1 veterans.
The brutality of life in Glasgow didn’t just impact on the poor but shaped the moral compass of the entire city. Morrison has intense sub-stories related to corruption, orphanages being used by sexual predators and gambling rings.
The principal storyline is compelling and brilliantly well told. For the English reader you’ll be pleased to know that knowledge of Glaswegian slang isn’t necessary.