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review 2018-09-16 18:55
Ways to Die in Glasgow
Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

Sometimes you can sense a shitty day is on the way. I liked to give them levels—scores out of ten. The game was to guess at the start what level of shite the day would achieve. I’d got pretty good at it. I judged I was at the beginning of a seven. Maybe I’d be able to get it down to a six if I went for a run later, got some air into my brain and cleared out the booze.

I don't know what I expected by I'm kind of glad this book wasn't it. For the first third of the book I was so bored with the patronising tone, the gore, the over-the-top descriptions of the Glaswegian criminal underbelly that I really considered swapping this book out for another. 

 

But then the story seemed to have gotten beyond the scene setting and picked up some pace to move the plot forward and actually developed into a bit of a ride, where I could not figure what the next turn would bring. 

 

Would the character I just got attached to make it through the next chapter? 

Would the solution to the murders - plural, there are lots - turn out how I imagined it?

Would the author name yet another street that I remember staggering along after a fun a night out to see a band? 

 

There were elements in this book that I didn't enjoy but that I appreciate for needing to be in the story to create the Noir atmosphere and setting. And, yet, having finished the book, I am left with a smile, looking forward to the next adventure featuring Sam Ireland and her haphazard ways of investigating, and hoping that I might enjoy this series just as much as McDermid's Karen Pirie books, which I was reminded of more than once this afternoon.

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review 2018-08-11 04:32
Three distinct and entertaining voices take you on a tour of Glasgow's underbelly
Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

Inside the front door of the building, I checked the directory, looking to see which floor the firm was on, only to find that they used all of it. The recession hadn’t reached this far up the street. The reception area was decorated in muted shades of black and tan. Anything that didn’t share that colour scheme was made of glass. A woman who was far too young and far too skinny greeted me. She took my name and waved me into a large waiting area.

 

She didn’t whisper that she was a child slave or beg for help.

 

She didn’t ask if I could sneak her a cheeseburger.


So we are just dropped into the action here, no background, no setup, no idea who this guy narrating things is -- the very definition of in media res, and, come to think of it -- we are also dropped into the very definition of coitus interruptus. In this particular case the interruptus takes the form of a couple of guys trying to kill our narrator. Somehow, Mackie (the narrator) escapes -- though injured -- and seeks shelter at his Uncle's place -- which turns out to have been recently tossed by persons unknown (the people that came after Mackie?), and his Uncle Rab is nowhere to be found. Mackie gets patched up by his therapist and the two head out to search for Rab.

 

Once that's underway, we jump back a couple of hours in time to meet our second narrator, Sam Ireland. Sam's a newish Private Investigator who made a little splash in the news recently and is working enough to keep going, but not enough to pay rent on the office. So the office is now her apartment. It's her father's firm, but he's in a retirement home and Sam's trying to keep it alive -- with a little help from her brother. Sam's got an appointment with a potential new client, who insists on very strange meeting times (e.g., 11:23) -- it's the law office described in the quotation above. They'd read about her in the papers and wanted to hire her for some things, but first they want a test run -- they'd like her to deliver some legal papers to a local celebrity author. As Sam says "...a Glasgow celebrity. . . is one way of saying dangerous." He's writing true crime memoirs now, and there's a problem with his latest book so they need to serve him with papers -- but can't find him, can Sam? For the price they're willing to pay, yes, yes she can. The celebrity's name? Rab Anderson.You begin to see the fun here.

 

It turns out that our third narrator, DI Lambert, also has a vested interest in finding Rab. But there's the tiny little thing called a job that is interfering. There's a suspicious death that he really wants to write off as a suicide, but the guys from the Lab won't let him. He also has connections to our other narrators. He's a friend of Sam's and will occasionally bend a rule or two to help her with some information. He'd also arrested Mackie some years back on a pretty serious charge.

 

The novel is told bouncing back and forth through each of these narrators (sometimes the same scene is retold from a different perspective) -- there's a little bit of shifting back and forth through time to keep everyone at about the same point, but it's easy to follow. Each of these narrators has a great and distinctive voice -- you really don't need the chapters to tell you who is "speaking" you get it within a sentence (not that I mind the help). I could easily read an entire novel from one of their perspectives -- Lambert's wouldn't be as entertaining as either Mackie's or Sam's, but it'd still hold up. Bringing these three voices -- from radically different backgrounds, education, age, experience, vocation -- but all representing Glasgow. Mackie's a great, great character -- he's the first we get to know in this book, and in many ways, he's the heart. But Sam's the star -- she's stubborn, reckless, clever, and resourceful. That doesn't quite make up for the fact that she's a small woman with little ability to defend herself -- but she frequently has her large brother along to offset that.

 

One of my favorite parts of John Wick was how we're dropped into this extensive underground world with relationships, rules, alliances and whatnot -- as the film goes on we grow to understand them. Something very similar is at work in this novel -- we don't have a point of entry character, really (Sam's close), we have nothing really to get us oriented in this reality other than what happens when the characters interact and what we learn from that. This is a rich world full of many colorful, dangerous people. It's not long before we move beyond the hunt for Rab and dive deep into the murky waters surrounding him, Mackie and Lambert -- and hope that at least someone is able to survive before Sam gets drug under as well.

 

That metaphor may have gotten away from me. But oh well . . .

 

This is a violent book -- make no mistake. It's a visceral blood bath at times -- and its disturbing. But honestly? The hard scene to get through had no blood, no guns, knives or anything. It was a chapter where a father thinks about the trouble his daughter is in and what he can do to help her -- it's a couple of pages long, helps build the tension, it deepens the mystery, and just breaks your heart. Give me a dozen bloody corpses any day over that.

 

If there's one thing I've learned from Kate McCall and Sam Ireland, it's that daughters should not take over their father's PI business unless they're ready to learn a lot about their father that they didn't want to know. It's possible that's true for daughters taking over any business of their father's -- I'm not sure, I should probably read more about them, but I don't recall a lot of novels being written about daughter's taking over for their father's CPA firm or pizza parlor or dry cleaning business. There's a pretty big difference between these two ladies (there are plenty of similarities, now that I think about it, too). Kate is surrounded by oddballs, eccentrics, and actors up for anything who are generally good-natured and willing to help her. Sam is surrounded by people she can't trust, people she shouldn't trust, a brother who has to be harassed into helping her out, a maverick cop, and a whole lot of shady characters -- all of whom (except the brother and probably the cop) would be just as likely to drop her in a grave as they would be to lend her a helping hand.*

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am definitely coming back for more from Stringer. It's twisty, it's violent, it's got a lot of heart, it'll put a smile on your face and get you to come back for more. Check out this unique look into Glasgow.

 

* This isn't to knock McCall & Co. -- I actually rather enjoyed the book, and plan on reading the rest of the series soon. It was just a parallel I thought of when reading this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/08/06/ways-to-die-in-glasgow-by-jay-stringer-three-distinct-and-entertaining-voices-take-you-on-a-tour-of-glasgows-underbelly
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review 2018-08-01 13:23
Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer
Ways to Die in Glasgow - Jay Stringer

I'm a bit lazy during this heat wave, so I'll give you the official synopsis:

 

A violent drunk with a broken heart, Mackie looks for love in all the wrong places. When two hit men catch him with his pants down, he barely makes it out alive. Worse still, his ex-gangster uncle, Rab, has vanished, leaving him an empty house and a dead dog.

 

Reluctant PI Sam Ireland is hired by hotshot lawyers to track Rab but is getting nothing except blank stares and slammed doors. As she scours the dive bars, the dregs of Glasgow start to take notice.

 

DI Andy Lambert is a cop in the middle of an endless shift. A body washes up, and the city seems to shiver in fear; looks like it’s up to Lambert to clean up after the lowlifes again.

 

As a rampaging Mackie hunts his uncle, the scum of the city come out to play. And they play dirty. It seems that everyone has either a dark secret or a death wish. In Mackie’s case, it might just be both.

 

Ways to Die in Glasgow hits fast, hits hart, and delivers its punch with pitch black humour. It's just my kind of pulp.

 

I discovered Jay Stringer through his Eoin Miller Mysteries, some of the very few stories with a Roma lead character (although not #ownvoice). Those were set in England's Black Country, Stringer's old home. He's since moved to Glasgow, and the city became the new setting for his stories as well. Just like the Black Country, Glasgow builds a lively background for our hapless protagonists. During the course of 24 hours, they have to face murder attempts, betrayal, secrets, and ever shifting alliances. You can never be too sure who's on your side and who's gonna shoot you in the back as soon you look the other way.

 

Stringer chose a different narrative style for each of his three POV characters: 1st person past tense for Sam, close 3rd person past tense for Lambert, and the ever irritating 1st person present tense for Mackie. It's a bit gimmicky and not strictly necessary, as all three characters already have a distinct voice, but it doesn't get too annoying. Mackie's chapter are the most entertaining by far – he's not exactly sharp, but a force of nature. And he's got his priorities straight:

 

Now I'm fucked off.

Shoot me? Aye, I'm and annoying shite – I get that.

Shoot Jenny T to get to me? Well, she chose to be with me, I guess; she took her chances.

Grab my Uncle Rab? Well, Rab's pissed of a lot of people.

But shoot a dog?

I'm going to fuck them up big.

 

Mackie sets to his task with all the detective skills he's learned from watching hours of Columbo. Of course, that doesn't go well.

 

This is also one of the rare cases where the dreadful 1st person present tense not only works out, but is actually the best choice.

 

Ways to Die in Glasgow is not the most realistic story, but a fun romp, a bit like the early Guy Ritchie films. Also very brutal. Don't get too attached to the characters, they might not be around for long.

 

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review 2018-06-27 09:22
Cat Lady Embroidery
Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat - Applemints

by Applemints

 

This is a pattern book, so not a lot of text. The designs are all cats; cat faces, cats doing things, whimsical cats, cats with kittens, holiday cats, both Halloween and Christmas, cat alphabets, and of most interest to me, kitty borders that would look great on clothing.

 

The first section is full color pictures of all the designs, followed by a 'project inspiration gallery' with suggestions of where to apply the embroidery. Any piece of clothing or accessory made of cloth is a potential canvas. There is a comprehensive section on tools and materials that gives all the basics of this type of embroidery in simple enough terms for a beginner and shows the effects of using different numbers of strands of embroidery floss.

 

There are just three basic stitches involved; a chain stitch, a fill stitch and a French knot. Anyone who can wield a needle can do these. They include a chart to identify colors in two major brands of embroidery floss as well.

 

After that is pictorial chart instructions for all the designs. All the needleworker has to do is transfer the design onto whatever they want to embroidery and follow the lines with the color and number of strands indicated. Easy peasy, anyone who can follow a line can decorate their clothing with cute cats!

 

I thought it was brilliantly done and the designs are really cute. I'm looking forward to transforming my entire wardrobe into crazy cat lady clothes.

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review 2018-06-18 16:59
Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat by Applemints
Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat - Applemints

This is not your normal cross stitch book. Like other books it is filled with patterns. There are 380 ways to stitch a cat. There are cat faces, whole cats, cat alphabets, cat boarders, and more.

 

These are not full pictures or scenes. The book allows to make your own designs and add the cats to it.

 

The book has stitch guides, tool & materials, thread conversion charts, project inspiration guide and more.

 

This book is great for cat lovers. It's also good for beginner stitchers and advanced as well.

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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