The Storm Without

2 Mins read

Written by Tony Black — ‘Irvine Welsh’s favourite British crime writer.’ That is one hell of plaudit to live up to, but Tony Black has proven time and again that he is fully deserving of it. He’s a writer with an unflinching eye for brutality, adept at spinning out stories of lowlife transgression which often reaches into the higher echelons. People trafficking, dog fighting, police corruption are a few of the things he touches on, and that’s just the Gus Dury series. Hot on the heels of his second police procedural Murder Mile, Black has released The Storm Without, a standalone novella.

Doug Michie rocks up in his old hometown of Alloyway, the birthplace of Robert Burns on the Ayrshire cost, trailing a black cloud. He’s been drummed out of the Royal Ulster Constabulary for reasons he’d rather not go into, his marriage is over and his drink problem is in a steady holding pattern. On top of all that his aging mother needs attention that neither of them particularly want him to give. On the edge of town he runs into old school friend Lyn and his homecoming gets complicated.

Lyn’s son Glenn has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. They had a history of domestic altercations and his reputation was hardly spotless, so it’s an open and shut case. Lyn believes he’s innocent, naturally, and Doug is drawn into doing some digging around. He may be out of the police, but the police isn’t out of him.

It doesn’t take long for Doug to realise Glenn’s being fitted up. The old town has changed a lot since Doug left – faded and degenerating, awash with counterfeit cigarettes and East European girls trafficked in to service the locals behind closed doors. The low level wannabes of his youth are now running things, doing the heavy lifting for the kind of white collar criminals who like to keep their hands clean and will do so no matter what the cost. Doug is warned off politely, then not so politely, but he keeps going, seemingly in self-destruct mode. He receives one beating after another and tries to drink away the pain, prepared to take whatever’s coming to him in order to uncover the truth.

Originally written as a serial for The Ayrshire Post, it would be easy to dismiss The Storm Without as a curio for Black’s hardcore fans only, but it is an excellent piece of work. The short page count and the pressure of weekly deadlines have combined to inspire a lean, pacy novella which packs one hell of a punch. Everything you’d want from a Tony Black book is here – the violence and the corruption and the relentless pessimism which makes you want to hit the bottle, all filtered through an achingly emotional homecoming story.

Blasted Heath

CFL Rating: 5 Stars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related posts

Sweet Dreams by Anders Roslund

Swedish crime writer Anders Roslund returns with Detective Ewert Grens for the 10th instalment of his gritty crime series set in Stockholm. Grens, now 65, is as depressed and gloomy as ever, and the psychological scars of years of police work are beginning to show….

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford

Throughout her career, South African crime author and journalist Margie Orford has dealt extensively with the way trauma manifests itself in countries with a turbulent political history such as South Africa and Namibia. She’s particularly interested in how it permeates the social structure, often culminating…

A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements

At the centre of the intrigue in each of Rory Clements’ World War II espionage novels sit true historical events. Cambridge history professor Tom Wilde’s task is to step in and save the world from the iron glove of Nazi tyranny. One false move and…
Crime Fiction Lover