Publication Date: January 10, 2013
In The Unfaithful Seven by Alasdair Smith, Louis Cameron, one of Glasgow’s leading property developers, bribed an official that he didn’t have to bribe. Louis discovers that his planning permits would have been approved without the bribe. The man who took the money is found hanging in his apartment. Louis vows to get the money back no matter what and brings in John Quinn, a nobody who Louis believes was a good friend of the politician, to help. Jack Robinson, the owner of the land to be developed, also gets word of the half a million and with the help of his sidekick, Bannie McKenzie, plans to get the money first. It’s a race to the cash in this Scottish crime caper.
The Unfaithful Seven is a light and fun story in the tradition of the British crime capers of the 1960s and brings to mind one of my favorite novels by James O. Born titled Walking Money. The idea is that if the money is stolen (or in this case a bribe) to whom does the money then belong to? The politician, who abhorred Glasgow’s poor, worked for the rich and for himself. He would one day be wealthy enough to retire to somewhere warm. As it happens often in such literary situations, the poor guy wasn’t destined to last that long. He had no qualms about taking a bribe on a proposition that would have gotten through anyway. Louis has no qualms about taking the money back. The problem for Louis is to how to get it done, so he sends he thugs who could only charitably be described as “big-boned” (Kindle Location 401).
Smith’s humor is subtle. His characters are quirky and his insight into the setting unique. Smith’s narrative feels somewhat nostalgic. Had I ever been to Scotland, I’m sure there would be special insights that would add to this enjoyment. The narrative outlines at the start of the novel, Quinnie’s ability to do the Full Circle (drinking at the best places at every stop) and there’s a feeling of authenticity in the description. The Unfaithful Seven has the feeling of a crafty insider with a distinctive sense of place.
The novel has some minor editing issues that are not of the nature to hinder the readability of the piece. The wonderful thing about The Unfaithful Seven is the saucy winks to the reader and humorous commentary on Glasgow and human nature. On the negative side, this is not a novel to give the reader the sense of something not seen before.The Unfaithful Seven is a solid story with a lot of heart and well worth the time investment to read. The Unfaithful Seven is Alasdair Smith’s first novel and an outstanding outing in that respect. I look forward to seeing more from this talented author.
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