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* The long-awaited and stunning new novel from the unrivalled Iain Banks

About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.


Readable, gripping . . . One of his best - William Leith - Evening Standard'There is more than a shade of Pip and Estella in Stewart and Ellie, and to create an emotionally satisfying while intellectually convincing ending is a rare achievement . . . Beguiling - GuardianThe mythology of Stewart's past, and of Stonemouth itself, is utterly absorbing. Addictive, funny, and brilliantly observed - Daily MailBanks at his waspish, intelligent, nuanced best. His fans will give thanks - Scotland on Sunday

The flower of Scotland's more than a wee bit wilted from drink and recreational drugs in this violent, funny, coming-of-age explosion from veteran Scottish novelist Banks (The Crow Road) set in moderately affluent Stonemouth, near Aberdeen. Some noxious native weeds, like the Murstons, a local crime family, are threatening to choke off narrator Stewart Gilmour now that he's returned after five years to pay his last respects to the clan's departed patriarch, Joe. Stu also has unfinished business with Ellie Murston, the girl he loves but left at the altar after the disastrous, hilarious disclosure of his boozy, coked-up pre-marriage fling. Stunning descriptions of coastal Scotland alternate with the rain-soaked violence of Ellie's brothers and Stu's painful flashbacks to his youth. His memories help him understand that beneath the "flash-hate" he's encountering, there's "something hurt and pathetic and raging." Banks ends by hopefully assuring us that even a land sapped by corrupt compromise and the "new orthodoxy" of materialism can bloom again. Agent: Kate Hibbert, Little, Brown U.K. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Stewart Gilmour returns to his hometown of Stonemouth, Scotland, to pay his respects at the funeral of a local patriarch. What should be a simple visit has to be negotiated with one of the two local crime families, a family that Stewart was a week away from marrying into when he skipped town five years earlier. With a weekend to kill before the funeral, Stewart endangers himself by questioning the circumstances that forced him to leave in the first place. This novel begins with all the elements of a good noir: a protagonist in over his head, a moody setting, and an atmosphere of danger. But about midway through, the plot begins to meander, and instead of remaining a taunt thriller or mystery, the novel ends up more as a love story and a meditation on returning to one's childhood home. VERDICT Although well written, the story seems confused about what it wants to be. Banks's (The Wasp Factory) latest is mildly recommended for fans of gritty European fiction, but fans of crime fiction and noir will likely be disappointed. [Banks also writes speculative fiction as Iain M. Banks; his latest Culture novel publishes this month, see below.-Ed.]-Pete Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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