Black, Tony - 'Gutted'
In his second book, Tony Black brings back Gus Dury the alcoholic ex-journalist who always seems to find any trouble going.
Whilst Gus is staking out Corstorphine Hill for badger baiters, he comes across a gang of yobs attacking a dog. When he intervenes, he stumbles upon the gutted remains of Tam Fulton (the bag man for local crime boss Rab Hart who is currently doing time in Saughton Jail). When the police arrive, they don't seem to be particularly keen to solve the murder and it's not helped by the fact that the detective in charge, Jimmy Johnston, is living with Gus's ex Debs. Gus now owns the pub left to him but seems intent on drinking the little profit the bar makes (but at least he has somewhere to live).
As Gus gets the chance to write up the murder in the local paper, he discovers that Fulton's pit bull mauled the three-year-old daughter of Judge Crawford to death and that Crawford's son was one of the yobs on the hill. The police then decide that Gus killed Fulton and beat him whilst he is under arrest. He is released and realizes that he must solve the crime or be charged with a murder he didn't commit.
So Gus, with the help of his friends, sets out to find what happened to the £50,000 that Fulton was carrying, particularly as Rab Hart is keen to blame Gus for the lost money. As Gus carries out his investigation, he is drawn into the sink estates in Edinburgh where dog breeding and training is secretly taking place along with dog fights, that are attracting heavy betting.
Gus doesn't seem to be getting anywhere with the police determined to pin this murder on him and the judiciary appearing to want to cover-up this brutal murder. The story proceeds in Tony Black's fast paced style until Gus finally discovers who was responsible for the murder.
In this second book, Tony Black yet again delivers a fast moving, hard edged story whilst delving into the darker side of Edinburgh. With this book, Tony Black has confirmed his place at the heart of Scottish crime fiction with a superb second book - roll on book number three.
Read another review of GUTTED.
Paul Blackburn, Scotland