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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  5,959 ratings  ·  560 reviews
Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After 5 years in exile his presence is required at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, and even though the last time Stu saw the Murstons he was running for his life, staying away might be even more dangerous than turning up.
Hardcover, 357 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Little, Brown (first published 2012)
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John Tegner Ian Banks' "The Bridge" is one of my favourites. Intricate multi-woven plot lines, high quality writing, both disturbing and hilarious.

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  5,959 ratings  ·  560 reviews

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Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
iain (m.) banks writes supersmart sci-fi books that "you wouldn't understand, karen."

but he also wrote this, which i am proud to say i completely understand, and i really enjoyed.

it is a crime thriller, set in a small town in scotland, which is presided over by two competing, but not actively warring, gangster families who have made their fortunes and reputations getting their hands dirty. and not by doing any manual labor, yeah? although whacking people is, i suppose, technically "manual."

Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013

This is not a sympathy vote for a writer fighting against cancer. Stonemouth might be my top romance read of this year. I was already familiar with the daring, Big concept, galaxy spawning Culture books, but there is little to recognize in style and in plot when the writer turns towards contemporary fiction, towards the intimate, the understated character study. If I were to find a term of comparison, I would go for Graham Joyce, writing about growing up in a small town, learning about death and
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I've read everything Banks has written and think this is probably his best, certainly up there with them anyway and better than his recent novels. Why? Because its a simple story written very well. He doesn't confuse the reader with science or technology, this book is set in the real world and is utterly believable. Such is his way that I couldn't help but read it quickly but then I realised I'd finished it and was going to miss it. The relationship between Stewart and Ellie ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Thurley
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really like Iain M Banks (Iain Banks' sci-fi alter ego). I also love a lot of Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory, The Bridge and A Song of Stone especially.

But I really am quite tired of Banks’ wordy, trendy, pharmaceutically-enlightened, politically-spot-on, smart-arse characters. As for the the plot... the return to town, and reunion with the lost love unfolds with an irritating inevitability. Attempts to build intrigue seem half-hearted. Moral dilemmas around drugs, sex, work, celebrity all come
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it
It's always a fairly comfy kind of feeling when Iain Banks returns to writing about a parochial small town in Scotland, even more so when he's got strained personal relationships and matters of family hierarchy to deal with. You can tell he's deep within his comfort zone by the beauty of his prose, so few writers manage to maintain the pace of an airport read while maintaining a real earthy dark lyricism. So far so good.
Iain seems to have written this book by creating a huge cast of characters,
Andrew Smith
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The dialogue in this book is superb, I could see how it would translate into great TV or film. This is a thoroughly good yarn too; centred around a found man who skips town after upsetting a local crime family, the plot held my attention throughout, as did the love story which is the real meat of the book. In summary, it's an excellent read and in my eyes only fell short of 5 stars because it's not quite as good as Dead Air (not many books are!)
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nostalgia and Privilege are linked and perhaps inverted in this strange tale which avoids the grisly but doesn't provoke constant laughter. Banks may simply be referring to small town Scotland. He may also be speaking of the EU. There was considerable space where history is to forgiven for mutual advantage. That may be my dizzy head .

The hero of the narrative is caught with his pants down and must return home five years after the fact. There is a Crow Road analysis under way. It isn't concluded.
Ian Mapp
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fict
Its only when you read a master storyteller that you realise that most of what you have been recently reading has been very poor in comparison.

Banks is back on familar ground. We have remote scottish towns, young love, a past drama, funerals - all the usual subjects are ticked. Told from Stewart Gilmours perspective. He is returning to Stonemouth after being driven out of town 5 years previously. His mistake was taking up with a crime families daughter and getting cauaght cheating on her in the
Andrew Brown
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
I am a big fan of Iain Banks' work; he is just about the only author whose books I get when they are released in hardback, rather than wait on the paperback publication. I've also started reading his Science Fiction works, published as Iain M Banks, but for the sake of clarity references to his oeuvre in this review are specifically to the "non-M" books.

After a number of books which failed to reach the heights of his previous works, his last book, Transition, was something of a return to form.
Pauline Ross
This is one of those odd books that I found enjoyable to read at the time, but when I put it down, I lapsed into so-what? apathy. The premise is a fairly trite one. A mid-twenties man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, and spends the time reminiscing about growing up, being astonished at the changes that have taken place and equally astonished at the things that remain unchanged, and resolving a few loose ends from his departure five years before. So far, so ho-hum. The twist here is ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I suppose this marks a return to form of sorts for Iain Banks. With the thesis-undermining caveats that I haven't read Steep Approach To Garbadale and I bloody loved Transition, Banks' non-M books have been pretty lacking since Whit. Generally readable and fun - if you ignore Song Of Stone - but lacking in depth, perhaps, with his customary skill, narrative flair, formidable imagination and exquisite writing all more or less present and correct, but not quite gelling to produce more than the sum ...more
Frank O'connor
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the relationship between the past and the present. It is a subject Banks writes about a lot, and a common factor between his realist fiction and science-fiction. In the latter case, the present happens to be the past, in the former, vice-versa.

The protagonist specializes in floodlighting and his first word is 'Clarity'. This automatically makes me think he will be an unreliable narrator but Banks could well be playing a double-bluff game. That opening word also reads like an
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, thriller
The author's name "Iain Banks" usually means science fiction to me. I was quite surprised by this remarkable novel. Stewart Gilmour returns to the gritty town of Stonemouth in Scotland, after five years of exile. We don't really know why he was exiled, but it had something to do with one (or both) of the crime families in the town. Banks maintains a tension as the story bounces between the present time and events that occurred five years ago. There is always an undercurrent of dark hatred and ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
a good book, funny and touching, with a vein of danger and darkness

it has all the banks staples - humour, irony, secrets, history and episodes of sickening violence. my kind of book. some fantastic characters, particularly ferg - an alcoholic omnisexual with a penchant for withering one liners

perhaps a little sentimental for banks, makes it a 4.5 in lieu of a 5
Roger Brunyate
Romance Noir

Scottish writer Iain Banks died earlier this year [2013]. I had not heard of him until seeing his name in the best-of-the-year lists of several writers for the Guardian and the Observer, so I thought I would try one. At random, though; I have no idea if this novel is among his best or even typical of his style. But it is pretty darned impressive.

Open the book, and you immediately wonder whether this should not have been shelved in the mystery and thriller section. It begins in
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There were stretches of this novel where I wasn't sure where it was headed, or what its purpose was.

But along the way, I became completely captivated by this crew of northern Scottish millennials and their struggles to come to terms with their lives.

The protagonist is Stewart, a talented young man who now makes his living as an exterior lighting consultant based in London. But his rootless life is largely due to the fact that his plans had exploded a few years before, when he was set to marry
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
I was holding off this review until I re-read the book, just to make sure that I wasn't going to damn it with faint praise. The fact that I couldn't be bothered to get more than a few chapters into it a second time should really be all I need to say.

However, as a massive Iain (M) Banks fan, Stonemouth just comes across as Banks-lite, something I think that any good writer - and IMB is a great writer - could knock off without raising too much sweat. The plot burbles along nicely, no great twists
Dan Coxon
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I'd heard this was a return to form, but it feels more like Banks-by-numbers. Many of his annoying quirks are still intact: the adolescent worldview where every girl is a stunner and every guy is a witty Wilde-wannabe, the occasional rant on political issues, the scant plotting. I know they're what make Banks who he is, but I wish he'd tone some of them down from time to time. The biggest disappointment of all is the slow, obvious plotting - somewhere along the way he's lost the ability to ...more
Raja Ram
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another enjoyable book from Ian Banks. Knowing that Ian was at deaths door did fill me with sadness as I turned the pages. His clever story telling (you never knew what you were going to get), sense of humour and hugely likeable characters will soon be coming to an end but will not be forgotten.

The book was well written evoking memories of the Crow Road at times. I'm not sure I'd want to live in Stonemouth or befriend the Murstons but I couldn't wait to find out how Stewart Gilmour's return
Lou Robinson
I really really really enjoyed Stonemouth. It's a very typical Iain Banks with definite comparisons to The Crow Road. It's set in a remote Scottish village with a cast of violent mafia styled characters (Are the Murstons really the Sopranos?) There's drugs, sex, gambling, murder....Stonemouth has it all. Sadly, there won't be any more books from Iain Banks. I've still got The Quarry to read and I think I'll go back through some of the older novels over time. But if you've never read any of his ...more
Josh Ang
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
A young man, Stewart, returns to the small town that he grew up in to attend the funeral of an elder of an influential and shady family and revisits old wounds and the act of indiscretion that causes him to leave his childhood home in the first place. The premise is interesting enough, but the patchy writing and stilted dialogue are letdowns to an otherwise promising story.

Perhaps Banks tries too hard to make the setting and the youth of the protagonist credible - e.g. isn't it always the young
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Stewart Gilmour returns to his old hometown near Aberdeen to attend a funeral. He fled 5 years previously and was chased out of town by the local mob family. There is no secret or drama about his leaving - a sexual encounter a week before his wedding to Ellie, the beautiful granddaughter to the now dead mobster, saw him being chased out of town by the family seeking blood for bringing shame to the family.
The book covers contemporary Scotland, iPhones, homosexuality, agnostics, drugs, as well as
Dominic Carlin
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first Iain Banks book I read ended up with a 16 year old finding out that they were actually a girl and her dad had been secretly doping her with testosterone pretended she'd lost her bollocks in a dog attack. I can't even remember the second book of his I read, but apparently I liked it.

So when I accidentally left my Kindle at home and I saw this book hanging around my office, left by a former co-worker, I haven't a clue what I expected. But it had that triumvirate of romance, violence and
David Nelson
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been kind of cherry picking the most notable Banks novels so far, and this is the first that I had no prior knowledge of, so was slightly worried it wouldn't be as good. No need to worry - very enjoyable book. I've come to realise it's his characters and their interactions that I really love about his writing - very real, and human feeling, and often quite evocative of my childhood growing up in Scotland. Interesting, compact and engaging story essentially about a relationship with a girl, ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Stonemouth is my second Iain Banks novel. I read The Wasp Factory not long after his death and although I found it very well written I was really disturbed by all the animal cruelty in it. Stonemouth is nothing like The Wasp Factory, in fact is difficult to believe it was written by the same author.

In Stonemouth, a young man is returning home to a town that is rife with corruption ruled by two crime family clans. He left home 5 years ago, escaped really, and now must return for the funeral of
Carmilla Voiez
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
I read this book in a little over 24 hours and cherished every word. It is also one of the few books I’ve read with an out bisexual male character who is presented sympathetically and shown to be more than simply his sexuality.

Stonemouth is a love story and a thriller. It is about how we grow from youth into adulthood, what changes and what doesn’t. It’s about power and domination and about a small down that isolates itself from the outside world.

Stewart returns to the town where he grew up, a
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A well-told and gripping-enough yarn which didn't quite hit the mark for me and certainly didn't reach the dizzying heights of my Banks faves - Transition, The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road & The Quarry in order of greatness - though I can't quite put my finger on why.

Set in a fictional town in the north of Scotland - with definite "small town" vibes, Stonemouth is about nostalgia, regret and facing up to past mistakes. Riddled with flashback exposition and with a dash of Scottish mafia
Bill Fisher
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
OK took the long way around to get to the guts of the story. Worth another lain Banks read.
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This author also published science fiction under the pseudonym Iain M. Banks.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in
“I wonder if – as I tumble towards the waves – I’ll have time to get the iPhone out, hit Facebook and change my status to ‘Dead’.” 24 likes
“Marriage is about compromising,’ he told me. ‘Families are about compromising, being anything other than a hermit is about compromising. Parliamentary democracy certainly is.’ He snorted. ‘Nothing but.’ He drained his glass. ‘You either learn to compromise or you resign yourself to shouting from the sidelines for the rest of your life.’ He looked thoughtful. ‘Or you arrange to become a dictator. There’s always that, I suppose.’ He shrugged. ‘Not a great set of choices, really, but that’s the price we pay for living together. And it’s that or solitude. Then you really do become a wanker. Another drink?” 20 likes
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