Black, Tony - 'Loss'
LOSS is another storming success from Tony Black, who continues to follow the misdemeanors of the Edinburgh-based, down-at-heel, journalist Gus Drury and his pals. Just after life seemed to be improving for him, fate gives Gus another cruel blow in the nethers: one minute he is building bridges, albeit fragile ones, with his forever love, Debs, the next he is phoned in the middle of the night by the police and summoned to identify a body - Michael, his brother - and events take a dramatic downward lurch.
Gus is in a quandary. He promised Debs that he would avoid getting into trouble, especially with the police. He has also vowed to keep away from his ever-faithful source of comfort, The Drink. However, with the brutal murder of Michael, he starts to break his promises. He does manage to keep the lid firmly screwed on the top of his whiskey bottle but gets embroiled in the murder investigation, out of sheer frustration at the lack of police progress and a burning desire for revenge. Tensions start to build as his relationship crumbles and he resorts to seeking solace in the white 'baggies' that he hides in the bathroom. Torn between family loyalty and a need to get even, Gus uncovers dodgy dealings in his brother's firm - but then the killings start in earnest and it gets really messy.
LOSS is excellent, in a rather black and depressing manner. Black uses pithy, realistic language and life situations to make you feel as if Gus might be somebody that lives near you. He is a loveable rogue and you empathise with him while watching, helpless, as he sinks once more into the downward spiral that he has fought so hard to drag himself out of. He ends up partner-less, dog-less and alone at the end of the book, leaving you wondering what on earth could possible happen to him next.
Black takes crime fiction to even darker levels with LOSS. The story is grim and cheerless. Nobody is happy and everything is devoid of hope. To make it even more miserable, it is set in severe winter weather and descriptions of the snow, filthy slush and bitter iciness make the story even bleaker.
I greatly enjoyed reading LOSS and am hopeful that the next outing for 'our Gus' will see things improve for him again.
Read another review of LOSS.
Amanda Gillies, Scotland