THE HANGING SHED is a thriller. It's a searing portrayal of post-war Scotland, a haunting story of the personal after-effects of war, dislocation, friendship, loyalties, and mistakes. It's powerful, atmospheric, uplifting, sad, violent, and compassionate.
The central character, Douglas Brodie, is a former policeman, who on returning from fighting for King and Country in the Second World War, secures a job in London as a reporter. News from his native Glasgow that childhood friend Hugh Donovan is about to be hanged for the murder of a child has him returning home, conflicted. The cause of the conflict is yet more history, between him and Donovan. Although hard for Brodie to put aside, it must be, as for everything that has happened between them, Brodie has a strong sense of right and fairness.
The whole of this book simply worked for me. The sense of compassion and sadness that wove it's way into the violence and desperation. The loss and fracture of the past, made even more stark by the impact of the war. The deprivation in the United Kingdom, the deprivation and sense of loss of those returning from fighting. The way that the path back into life was so individual, the way that Brodie struggles to find his place again.
It's about as pitch perfect a book as I've read in a long time. Perfect enough to ensure the purchase of BITTER WATER, the next in the series.