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Jack Laidlaw Books In Order

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Publication Order of Jack Laidlaw Books

By: William McIlvanney, Ian Rankin
Laidlaw (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Papers of Tony Veitch (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Strange Loyalties (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dark Remains (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dark Remains is a prequel.

Jack Laidlaw Series by William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin

The Jack Laidlaw Series was originated by William McIlvaney. Mr. McIlvaney, known as Gus by friends, was a Scottish novelist born in Kilmarnock in 1936. The youngest of four children, he attended his childhood years of school in Kilmarnock and then went to study English at the University of Glasgow where he graduated in 1960 with an MA.

Mr. McIlvanney’s elder brother, Hugh McIlvanney was the popular sports journalist and Liam McIlvanney, his son, is also a crime writer. Mr. McIlvanney passed away in 2015 at the age of 79.

In the obituary in The Telegraph, it was said of Mr. McIlvanney: “Many authors are admired. Many are respected. Few are loved as he was, for what they are as well as for what they have written.” Hemingway said that “all American literature came out of Huckleberry Finn; all Scottish crime writing — ‘tartan noir’ — comes out of Laidlaw.”

Ian Rankin was born in Cardenden, Fife, Scotland to James- a grocer and Isobel- a school canteen worker. Educated at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath, he graduated and decided to study literature at university. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. Mr. Rankin didn’t launch directly into being a full-time novelist, working first in wonderful variety of jobs including grape picker, taxman, hi-fi journalist, swineherd, college secretary, and a punk musician in the Dancing Pigs band.

Mr. Rankin is most well known for his Inspector Rebus novels usually set in Edinburgh. His Rebus stories are notable contributions to the tartan noir genre.

Mr. Rankin highly admired Mr. McIlvanney’s writing and his fictional detective Jack Laidlaw. When Mr. McIlvanney passed away in 2015 he left incomplete stories. His final novel, The Dark Remains, was a prequel of an early case of fictional detective Jack Laidlaw. It was completed by Ian Rankin and released in September 2021.

Mr. McIlvanney was a well established, prize winning literary author when he set to crime writing and gave us Inspector Laidlaw in 1977. Laidlaw was the first in a trilogy with the story set in early 1970’s.

Laidlaw is a nearly middle-aged working class policemen. He’s reached the point where he’s aware of his own mortality, his city of Glasgow, and the fracturing of the social framework around him from the docks to the swanky mansions.

Laidlaw was the character that helped McIlvanney establish himself as the genius who defined the tartan noir genre. Through his Laidlaw character, McIlvanney infused his knowledge of Glasgow and it’s old-school cultural misogyny, class angst, rugged masculinity, and an environment that is decaying by the hour to create the dark- noir-theme novels that became hugely popular.

In Laidlaw (#1) we are introduced to Detective Inspector Laidlaw. DI Laidlaw has demons and is in the midst of a failing marriage. The irony is he has a soft spot for criminals and a disdain for the law.

In this story Jennifer Lawson’s body is found in Kelvingrove Park right in the center of the city. The crime against this poor woman was brutal and the team is hunting for a vicious rapist and murderer.

Jennifer’s gangland father has his own way of meting out justice and is determined to find the killer before the police. DI Laidlaw has the advantage with his knowledge of the nasty underbelly of the city.

Mr. McIlvanney didn’t churn out his Laidlaw novels and the gap between stories was torture for his fans. Six years later he gave us The Papers of Tony Veitch.

This story is equally hard, edgy and full of angst. Paddy Collins is in hospital, having been stabbed. He was supposed to meet a man at the train station who’s on a mission.

Eck Adamson, a homeless alcoholic is dying in the hospital. He could have been shrugged off and gone unnoticed except he caught DI Laidlaw’s eye.

He’s able to get a few last cryptic words from Eck that may offer a clue to a gangland killing and he’s going to go all in for answers. This story is edgy, fast, deep thinking, and Laidlaw is digging for the connections.

The last Laidlaw novel by Mr. McIlvanney was left incomplete upon his death. Several years later Ian Rankin, who is an avid fan of Mr. McIlvanney’s writing, was asked to complete The Dark Remains.

Bobby Carter, a sleazy lawyer who seems to be mixed up in every crooked racket in the city has gone missing. He was in tight with Cam Colvin, a gangland boss.

Carter’s death is a problem- the vacuum created or the revenge it encourages will become a violent conflict between Glasgow’s street gangs. When Carter’s body is discovered at the bar of a rival gangster John Rhodes, the turf war is ignited.

DI Laidlaw and DS Lilley begin to investigate why and how Carter landed in enemy territory. Matt Mason, rival gang boss, adds powder to the keg. Laidlaw has an inspector who hates him and that guy has his own agenda.

The powder keg is getting near to being lit. Poor DS Lilley is supposed to rein in Laidlaw but there’s no chance of success of that. Laidlaw is the only one who can avert an ugly gang war.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Jack Laidlaw

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