Be not untimely slain by lethal fiction.
When the publishers Polygon mooted the idea of a McLevy novel, I felt like running for the hills. I work on instinct – formalised thought and structure is not my port of call – I know where I’ll end, but how I actually get there is always a complete mystery. Mind you – it was supposed to be a mystery story in any case.
Number two – Fall from Grace – a darker affair. Loss of reputation, a dangerous and dissatisfied wife, a homo-erotically inclined cold-blooded murderer, McLevy’s past in the shape of his mother’s suicide and insanity back to haunt him; all led to a wild night-storm and the Tay Bridge disaster. The fall out from that terrible accident permeates the rest of the novel and though there is a deal of McLevy’s black wit some additional humour comes in the shape of one William McGonagall – I am very fond of Mister McGonagall – he sacrificed his whole life to produce some of the worst poetry the world has ever seen and his dreadful verse is a macabre counterpoint as all these strands collide. McLevy ends up in the ocean with a desperate man for company. And the inspector cannot swim.
“I actually read Shadow of the Serpent a while ago and have just read another in the series, Fall From Grace, in which the God-like Sir Thomas Bouch, designer of, among other things, the Tay Bridge, turns out to be not so God-like – and his wife, Margaret, turns out to be not so lady-like. And again, Jean Brash, mistress of Edinburgh’s most celebrated “bawdy-hoose”, and her girls, play a large and entertaining part in the story!”