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(Jack Laidlaw #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,494 ratings  ·  296 reviews
Meet Jack Laidlaw, the original damaged detective. When a young woman is found brutally murdered on Glasgow Green, only Laidlaw stands a chance of finding her murderer from among the hard men, gangland villains and self-made moneymen who lurk in the city's shadows.

Paperback, 280 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by Canongate Books (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  2,494 ratings  ·  296 reviews

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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

I thought the Swedes had the market cornered when it comes to gloomy, depresive, existentialist crime fiction, but William McIlvanney sets out to prove me wrong, going back right to the angsty and dreary seventies. My first impression on meeting Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw was that he is a clone of Martin Beck : slightly alcoholic, broken marriage, taciturn and manic depressive. Later I came to the decision that he has enough substance and nuance to stand on his own merits, despite the note
There was an occasion many years ago when, cutting a long story short, I found myself in a pub in the East End of Glasgow (regarded as the less salubrious part of that city). The night before a man had been shot whilst sitting in a stationary car in the same locality, in what looked like a gangland-style killing. There was a TV in the pub and a newsreader was covering the story, ending the report with the words “Police have yet to confirm the identity of the victim”. This prompted a burst of lau ...more
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a crime writer who decided to get 'all literary'. McIlvanney is a deeply authentic Scottish (Glasgow) writer and poet who decided in the late 1970's (after having written some successful and gritty novels) that he could talk about existential decay now through the device of a crime sequence. He wrote two more of these Laidlaw books, and it became a trilogy. (Laidlaw is the first). Then, when the books were a big success, and his publishers told him that the pot of gold was there for t ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Ian Rankin and/or quality noir
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Leah
Stunning. Possibly the best-written crime novel I've read. It continually astounded me with its depth and surprising metaphors. There are noir tropes here, their meaning and resonance vastly amplified; I said similar about Ian Rankin a few months ago when I first read him, but this was like Rankin tripled, quadrupled - this, published in 1977, was one of the inspirations for Rebus.

To quote another GR review: "This isn't a crime writer who decided to get 'all literary'. McIlvanney is a deeply aut
Brilliant writing. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Highly recommend.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a republication of a 1977 book, the first in the Laidlaw series and I’m not sure as a crime fiction fan how I’ve missed this series! The book starts in an intriguing way with a ‘monsters’ journey through Glasgow. Later on a body of a young female is found in Kelvingrove Park which DI Laidlaw and DC Harkness investigate. This story is told from several perspectives including Laidlaw and

There’s a lot to like in this book. The plot is engrossing and intriguing, it’s well written in a style
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it
”’I thought you didn’t fancy yourself as a hard man?’

‘I don’t. But I don’t really fancy anyone else as one either. I hate violence so much I don’t intend to let anybody practise it on me with impunity. If it came to the bit, he’d win the first time all right. But I’d win the second time, if here was enough of me left to have one. No question about that. I’d arrange it that way. I don’t have fights. I have wars.’”

Laidlaw is the first novel of a trilogy of crime novels by the Scottish writer Willi
A gritty police procedural set in the seedy underbelly of Glasgow. The primary character Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw is a complicated, flawed man but also vulnerable in his private life. These traits made him more appealing as a character. As a first book for a series this dark police procedural was well delivered with interesting, complex characters. Also appreciated the pockets of humour to alleviate some of the bleakness of the murder mystery.

Hadn't heard of the author previously but I
Louise Wilson
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Laidlaw #1

Set in Glasgow in the 1970's.

A girl has been murdered in Kelvingrove park. They know who the killer is, theynjust need to find him. But they are ot the only ones looking for the killer. Thenfictims father wants to deal out his own justice and involves Glasgows underworld. Laidlaw is partnered with new recruit, DC Harkness.

DI Jack Laidlaw is misunderstood by his colleagues. He does not like DI Milligan. He doesn't really like authority. There is Glasgow dialogue which I always lik
Nick Davies
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Undoubtedly impressive, I should probably have read this before I did (though thanks to my Mum for pushing me to read it!) this certainly stood up to all the praise and all the critical acclaim with respect to the importance of this novel in the Tartan noir genre. I am certainly looking forward to reading the remaining two in the series - this has all of the cleverness, gritty description, convincingness and style that I find most enjoyable about the Scottish crime that I read. It was an immersi ...more
Louise Wilson
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Laidlaw #1

Set in Glasgow in the 1970's

A girl has been murdered in Kelvingrove park. They know who the killer is, they just need to find him. But they are not the only ones that's looking for the killer. The victims father wants to deal out his own justice and involves Glasgows underworld. Laidlaw is partnered with new recruit, DC Harkness.

DI DI Jack Laidlaw is misunderstood by his colleagues. He doesn't like DI Milligan. He doesn't really like authority. There is Glasgow dialogue which I a
Linda Strong
Jack Laidlaw is going after a killer. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a park. Laidlaw is extremely unorthodox in the way he is driven to find justice for the victims. This victim happens to be the daughter of a violent criminal .. and father is demanding the killer be found or he will find him himself.

It's a fast start with a teenage boy, brandishing a knife, is running through the woods ... fleeing the murder scene. What reason could this young man have for murdering this woman? Who
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
A young woman, Jennifer Lawson, is dead: strangled and sexually assaulted, and her body has been dumped in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. Her father is a mean, overbearing tyrant, and seeking justice. The identity of the killer is reveled early on, as is a probable motive. Brash and unconventional DI Jack Laidlaw is paired with a rookie to find the killer before further harm befalls him from several others. Laidlaw is much like the some of his Scandinavian noir detectives, such as Martin Beck or Ha ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wha daur meddle wi’ me…

“Glasgow was home-made ginger biscuits and Jennifer Lawson dead in the park. It was the sententious niceness of the Commander and the threatened abrasiveness of Laidlaw. It was Milligan, insensitive as a mobile slab of cement, and Mrs Lawson, witless with hurt. It was the right hand knocking you down and the left hand picking you up, while the mouth alternated apology and threat.”

When Jennifer Lawson’s body is found in Kelvingrove Park, it falls to Laidlaw and his colleagu
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, m

Jack Laidlaw is no ordinary detective. But then Glasgow is no ordinary city. His methods are unorthodox. Some would say dangerously unorthodox.

There’s nothing tidy or polite about him because there’s nothing tidy or polite about his world. But he knows the city in all its moods; sometimes he seems to know it better than he knows himself.

But when he’s given the job of hunting down the brutal killer of a yo
Julie Griffith Buckley
William If Ilvanney, Laidlaw, Black Thorn, April 2, 2020.

A literate, witty novel first published in the 70s, William Mc Ilvanney's Laidlaw, recently re-released by Black Thorn, set the foundation for the Tartan Noir sub-genre of crime fiction. Detective Jack Laidlaw is a layered and nuanced character, whose philosophies of life and policing give shape to this novel and the two other volumes in the Laidlaw trilogy Mc Ilhanney wrote and set in Glasgow.

The crime in Laidlaw is the murder of a young
Deb Jones
Jack Laidlaw may be one the most fascinating and simultaneously exasperating, police detective to come along in the genre. His bend toward philosophical thought can make even the simplest question or comment from another into an existential activity.

His home life is divided between the sheer pleasure he receives from parenting his three children and the sometimes quiet, sometimes not, verbal wars with his wife.

Laidlaw's policing techniques leave him set apart from his peers and bring him disdain
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what's better than a poet writing noir novels. nothing, that's what. glasgow in the 1970's seems a bit like freetown in the naughties: brutal, poor, unfair, corrupt, biting, where the people wonder why you never come to the bar anymore, they miss you you see.
so a cop procedural with bad guys, grieving parents, and even some cops, trying to solve the crime.
wonderfully philosophical, beer-mat-poetical, and lots of social geography, this 1st of 3 novels is just what i like, gritty noir with brains
John Gaynard
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years I heard that Laidlaw by McIlvanney was a classic and the father of all modern Scottish crime novels. Now that I have read it myself, I can say that I totally agree with this evaluation and I will read as soon as posible the two books McIlvanney wrote after Laidlaw. The dialect can be a little difficult to understand in the beginning, but it is well worth spending a couple of seconds on the first few phrases to get yourself equipped for reading the rest of the book and getting an educat ...more
Craig Pittman
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite crime novelists these days is Ian Rankin, dubbed by James Ellroy as "the king of tartan noir." But before Rankin, there was William McIlvanney, the man who showed him and everyone else -- Val McDermid, Malcolm Mackay and the rest -- how to write a Scottish crime novel. He's still miles ahead of them, too.

Starting with "Laidlaw" in 1977, McIlvanney -- a prize winning "literary" writer -- penned three novels about Jack Laidlaw, a tough but tender detective-philosopher tracking c
Elaine Tomasso
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to get to this book and now I know I should have read it years ago. The plot is relatively simple - the hunt for the murderer of a teenager - and the action sparse but violent so what's to like? It's the journey to the solution which is absolutely gripping. I've never seen Glasgow better portrayed - the landscape, the patter and the people are all spot on and Laidlaw is the product of this background where self confidence was not a virtue and blowing your own trumpet was d ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huge mistake on my part but my advice is, do not do audio. This probably would be an awesome read but I chose the audio which was very hard to follow. Literally I couldn’t understand the accent clearly so I wasn’t always following what was happening. The actual book would be easier, I am certain.
Alan Teder
Tartan Noir circa 1977
Review of the Canongate Books audiobook edition (2013) of the 1977 original

Canongate Books appear to be doing a 2020 revival of the Laidlaw crime series by Scottish writer William McIlvanney (1936-2015) with new covers such as the one for Laidlaw (April 2, 2020 release) which is also the current equivalent on Audible. This 2013 audiobook was recorded with the author's own narration.

I was intrigued to hear the author's own reading as those are comparatively rare in the audi
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thrillers
An Oldie but definitely a Goodie
This rerelease by Canongate Books of William McIlvanney’s defunctive detective is a brilliant reminder as to why he is considered one of Scotland’s best crime writers. For people my age, mid – 40s it makes the original Taggert look like a southern softie. This book was originally published back in 1977, and was the first in the Laidlaw trilogy. The novel is set in the 70s with all the fashions and griminess I remember as a kid, what would now be called post-indust
Diane Challenor
I read and enjoyed this book in 2019. I’d abandoned the audiobook back in 2013 after listening to the first chapter and thinking that the Scottish accent of the narrator (William McIlvanny) was a little too dense for my late night listening (before dropping off to sleep). This year, 2019, I purchased the eBook edition, and matched the audiobook with it, and then found I could follow the story more easily. I was determined to read the story. Also, I noticed, after reading the text via the eBook, ...more
Susan Johnson
This is the first Tartan noir and it is a doozy. The story concerns a young woman brutally murdered. Laidlaw is called in to investigate along with a new young investigator, Harkness. The investigation goes to the underbelly of Glasgow society. The language is very authentic. An example of a sentence, "Wan big. Wan no' sa big." It slowed me down to read the vernacular.

It is also a product of its time. There are a lot of homosexuals in this book and they are repeatedly referred to as poofs. Thi
Rachel Hall
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If a crime novel could be described as a thing of beauty, perhaps William McIvanney would take the crown with his seminal Laidlaw trilogy. The first Laidlaw novel was originally published in 1977 and still serves as the forerunner to every piece of crime fiction with a social conscience. Jack Laidlaw is a man of contrasts, every bit as ravaged by his inner demons as any existentialist philosopher. This novel still stands as a watershed in crime fiction and saw critics coin the term 'Tartan Noir' ...more
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Laidlaw is the first of three books by William McIlvanney featuring Glasgow DI Jack Laidlaw. Laidlaw is sort of Glasgow's version of Edinburgh's Rebus, without all of the self-destructive drinking. Jack Laidlaw is a tough loner. While other cops, such as his 'arch - enemy' DI Milligan are professionals in the way that they are paid to be police officers. Laidlaw is a professional in the way that he feels the crime, feels the killer, feels the victim.
It's a rambling sort of story. A young woman i
Sanjay Varma
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I liked this book. The hero Laidlaw's gruff exterior hides an intelligent man with a philosophical mindset. As he tries to solve the murder of a teenage girl, he squares off against grimy gangsters, and it seems violence is always on the verge of erupting.

Detective stories are a modern mythology that reveals faith and anxieties related to scientific reasoning. The plot of a detective story is very linear. The detective, in this case policeman Laidlaw, follows a clue to a suspect, who gives him t
Mary Fleming
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very gritty The real Glasgow Unpolished and funny!! No, Laidlaw is not Rebus!!!! A good read
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William McIlvanney was a Scottish writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. He was a champion of gritty yet poetic literature; his works Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch, and Walking Wounded are all known for their portrayal of Glasgow in the 1970s. He is regarded as "the father of 'Tartan Noir’" and has been described as "Scotland's Camus".

His first book, Remedy is None, was published in 196

Other books in the series

Jack Laidlaw (3 books)
  • The Papers of Tony Veitch (Jack Laidlaw, #2)
  • Strange Loyalties (Jack Laidlaw, #3)

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Some interesting news for book nerds: According to recent industry research, book sales spiked dramatically in 2020–otherwise a rather...
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“I don’t like questions. They invent the answers. The real answers are discovered, before you even know what the question is.” 2 likes
“don’t have fights. I have wars.’ To Harkness” 0 likes
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