Crime Fiction


The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

The first book in what I hope is going to be a great new series.
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The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney was one of my recent random picks from the library, and although I wasn’t too sure about it when I started reading, I very soon couldn’t put it down.

Set in Glasgow in 1969 it involves Detective Inspector, Duncan McCormack. There have been 3 murders of women in the city. Cases which, months later, aren’t close to being solved. The police have been working flat out to catch the killer – known as the Quaker – but have made little progress.

McCormack is parachuted into the investigation team to “write a report”. Basically, the higher-ups want the investigation shut down because there have been no more killings and the lack of progress is making the police look bad. McCormack is mistrusted by everyone on the investigation team. They know why he’s there and resent him for it. As he grapples with his report he slowly gets drawn into the case… and then there’s another killing.

McCormack is a complex character. A man who can’t leave a puzzle alone. A man with his own secrets who’s fighting the system without knowing it.

This is such a subtle novel. The story is told sensitively and instead of sharp twists and turns the plot is sinuous. Things change direction, the story shifts, but it feels unhurried and the layers and characters build slowly. You realise things aren't as straightforward as they appear, and you find yourself caring as much about McCormack as the case. It's beguiling.

In my world it’s the mark of a good book when, day’s later, I’m still thinking about it. And by that measure this is an excellent book. I loved it and give it 4+ Stars… maybe more.

It was the first book I've read by Liam McIlvanney but it won't be the last. And recently I discovered an article that he posted about The Quaker which was interesting too. You can read it here.
Cornish Eskimo

If you enjoy reading crime fiction why not come along to one of our book group meetings? They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s very informal because we don’t have a set reading list. We do, however, enjoy a wide-ranging chat about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. Everyone welcome!