Ferris, Gordon - 'The Hanging Shed'
Douglas Brodie, a former policeman who enlisted to fight for King and country is now, in 1946, returning to Scotland. Demobbed, Brodie had secured a job in London as a reporter, where he intended to stay, but news from Hugh Donovan, a childhood friend who is sentenced to be hanged within the month, convicted of the murder of a child, has him bound for home.
But Brodie is not travelling to Glasgow as a knight with a cause - he and Hugh Donavan have history, and Brodie's feelings are mixed. He meets with Sam Campbell, Hugh's lawyer, but with overwhelming evidence against Hugh, Brodie is still undecided as to Hugh's guilt. Putting aside his feelings and remembering Hugh the man, Brodie elects to do a little investigation.
This is a powerful book, dealing with murder, corruption, abuse, betrayal and in keeping with the time, inevitably religion. Despite the violence that ensues, the over-riding message that came through for me was one of compassion and sadness. Whether the author aimed for this I don't know, but as someone who lived through the post-war years and saw at first hand the after-effects of war, it hit me in the right place.
This book can be read and enjoyed on several levels - as a thriller it is unsurpassed - as a book portraying the post-war years and the effect on those that went to war and those that stayed at home it is potent in its representation of the period. Atmospheric, it draws you in and transports you back to the post-war years.
As a reviewer I wish I could read a book like this everyday, but sadly it's not so, but I can recognise an exceptional piece of writing when it comes my way. Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes, England