LENNOX - Craig Russell
Craig Russell is best known for his series of novels featuring Hamburg based detective Jan Fabel, but LENNOX is (it is reported) the first in a series of neo-noir styled novels, this one set in Glasgow, post World War II. Lennox is a Canadian ex-soldier who bears the psychological and physical scars of a brutal war, left with a skill set that makes him an ideal player in post-war, corrupt, grimy, dirty, mucky, violent Glasgow. Organised crime is establishing itself and at the centre of machinations are identical twins, Tam and Frankie McGahern. When Tam is murdered Lennox is "hired" by Frankie to find his killer. Now Tam, it seems, was the brains of the twins operation, and Frankie mostly muscle, as Lennox finds when he tries to sidestep Frankie's request. But when Frankie quickly turns up dead himself, and Lennox finds himself in the frame for his murder, he doesn't have much choice but to solve the mystery of both murders himself.
Lennox is one of those lone-wolf, fixer, cynical, wisecracking, dark and troubled traditional noir characters. Not a cliché however, he sits within the timeframe of 1950's Glasgow and the place and circumstances. Damaged by a brutal war, Lennox, and Glasgow, the crime figures, the cops, everyone fits within the expectations of time and place. Interestingly enough I was a little into the novel before I sorted out the timeframe, the era and the resulting factors that were driving the characters - which was actually a good thing. There is a real feeling of reality and actuality about the book, that make the wise-cracks, the dangerous (but a little thick) men, the dangerous (not necessarily thick) women, all delivered with a Glasgow-Scottish tweak just fit together very seamlessly.
The best part of LENNOX is undoubtedly the great story-telling, the tale is told in the first person - Lennox is hard-bitten, driven, yet funny and honourable. The sense of place, the gloom and the ever-present outfall from a brutal war is palpable. The only downside of the book that remained is that I didn't find anything in it particularly memorable - it hasn't really stayed with me since completing reading it. But I did enjoy the actual reading of it immensely.
Private investigator Lennox stands somewhere between legal and illegal, honour and greed, crims and cops. The one clear thing about Lennox is his certainty that only the toughest and most ruthless survive in his home town of Glasgow.
The McGahern twins are on the way up in Glasgow's grimy underworld. Then Tam, the brains of the pair, is killed in a vicious contract killing. Frankie, Tam's identical twin, wants Lennox to find out who killed Tam Lennox refuses. Later that night, Frankie turns up dead, and Lennox finds himself in the frame for the murder.