THE HANGING SHED - Gordon Ferris
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.
Glasgow 1946. Brodie's back in Scotland to try and save childhood friend Shug Donovan from the gallows. Everyone thought Donovan was dead, shot down in the war. The man who eventually returns is horribly burned, only venturing out for heroin to deaden his pain. When a local boy is found raped and murdered, there is only one suspect, but Donovan claims he's innocent. Ex-policeman Brodie feels compelled to help him. Working with advocate Samantha Campbell, Brodie finds an unholy alliance of troublesome priests, corrupt coppers and Glasgow's deadliest razor gang. As time runs out for Donovan, the murder tally of innocents starts to climb. When Sam Campbell disappears, it's the last straw for Brodie ...