Driving home from a swanky PR do in Edinburgh with his girlfriend and brother – everyone up to the eyeballs on pilfered narcotics and beetroot schnapps – Billy Blackmore drives through a pedestrian. Reporting it will mean lost jobs, arrest, maybe prison, so they do the only logical thing, take the body and dump it over the side of Salisbury Crags.
The next morning, bashed up and hungover, Billy finds himself dragged back to the scene in his professional capacity as trainee crime reporter on The Evening Standard. They’ve got a scoop and the story is going to be huge – Edinburgh’s gangster number one has been found dead at the bottom of the Crags. Frank Whitehouse wasn’t the kind of man to commit suicide so that only leaves murder and the police have plenty of suspects. The Mackies, a rival crime family looking to expand; Frank’s psychotic brother Dean; or maybe the widow Adele, a femme fatale who soon gets on Billy’s case.
Johnstone has written an elegant explosion of that ‘what if’ moment which starts when someone gets behind the wheel drunk. It’s something that happens all the time, and that’s genuinely scary. If that all sounds a bit po-faced we can assure you the book isn’t. Yes, it’s dark and brutal as you would expect from Johnstone, stuffed with drugs, violence and some rather disturbing sex, but it’s also very funny.