While there are familiar elements to the story, it being set in small town Scotland, it is a new tale from Ian Banks. The story is told in a first person point of view style, and on a first reading at least, realistically leaves some loose ends where the protagonist cannot be sure of who did what and why.

Taking place over a long weekend the story unfolds with a mixture of narrative and flashbacks to explain the background relationships and the reasons why Stewart Gilmour ended up an exile from his home town. There is a believable cast of characters, they all seem real and with complex motivations, even the low-key gangster types. The underlying plot is one of relationships and how they interplay over time. It also covers some of the issues of the Scottish diaspora well, how it feels to return to your hometown and meet your school friends who have stayed. I could empathise well with those thoughts.

Overall definitely worth reading, the story got me hooked after about 50 pages or so and I took an extended lunch and then stayed up late to keep on reading it. I think it will probably stand up well to a second reading to check on some of the clues uncovered later in the book. I also reckon it would make a very good TV drama, with lots of interpersonal interplay.

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