Book Notification

Liam McIlvanney Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Conway Trilogy Books

All the Colours of the Town (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where the Dead Men Go (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Duncan McCormack Books

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Burns the Radical (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ireland and Scotland (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Good of the Novel (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Liam McIlvanney is the bestselling author of the “Conway Trilogy” and the “Duncan McCormack” series. He happens to be the son of William McIlvanney of the acclaimed “DI Jack Laidlaw” series. Liam was born in Kilmarnock in Ayshire and went to Oxford and Glasgow Universities. He lectured on Irish and Scottish literature for more than a decade at the University of Aberdeen before he moved to New Zealand. He currently teaches Scottish, history, culture, and literature and on Scottish-Irish literary connections at the University of Otago. He is a Stuart Professor of Scottish chair at Otago.

Liam was a heavy reader right from the time he was a child and was attracted to the writing of Ray Bradbury. He was particularly fascinated by “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Illustrated Man” which were among the very first crime fiction novels he was introduced to. Just like kids would devour the Harry Potter books, he worked his way through Ray Bradbury and was hooked into the genre from then on. Since he has a background in journalism, Liam McIlvanney is also inspired by real-life events in the writing of his novels. Still, he gives the stories a unique twist that depends on the dynamic of the story that he wants to tell. According to the author, his principal duty as a crime fiction author is to tell a resonant and gripping story rather than being true to the notional facts of what inspired the story. For instance, his bestselling novel The Quaker that is set in 1960s Glasgow is about the Bible John killings. However, it is not a journalistic retelling but rather a fictionalized version since most of the details and names of the characters have been altered. Just like Aristotle says in poetics, McIlvanney asserts that his job as a fiction author is to say what he believes should have happened rather than say what happened.

While he has lived in New Zealand for more than a decade, he often finds his imagination returning to his native Scotland. It is the place that he knows like the back of his hand and hence he loves to write about the texture of life in Scotland. He writes about the shade of its skies, captures the smells and the colors of its landscapes. As for some of the authors who have influenced his writing apart from Ray Bradbury, he cites Grahame Green as his biggest inspiration. He loves Green for his combination of gripping plots with elegant and powerful prose, magical evocation of place, and moral seriousness. Liam has also been significantly inspired by “The Quiet American” that he has been reading for the better part of twenty years. Liam’s writing is also influenced by other authors. He cites the Gothic menace of Shirley Jackson and Flannery O’Connor, the dialogue of George V. Higgins, and the economy of Muriel Spark. He has also read Peter Temple and the classics such as “White Noise” by DeLillo and “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald.

As a crime author, Liam McIlvanney has won a ton of awards and honors. “All the Colours of the Town” his debut novel made the shortlist for the 2010 Scottish Trust Fiction Award. “Where the Dead Men Go” his second novel was the winner of the Best New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award in 2014. The critically acclaimed “The Quaker” that he published in 2018 was the winner of the Book of the Year McIlvanney Prize in 2018 and also made the shortlist for the Historical Dagger Award for the Crime Writers Association. He has also been involved in the writing of non-fiction works and “Burns the Radical” his debut non-fiction novel won the Saltire Award in 2002. He first got into fiction when an editor at Faber and Faber told him that he would make a great fiction author which came true when he published the critically acclaimed All the Colours of the Town. Apart from his fiction and non-fiction writing, he is also a columnist and writes critiques and reviews for “The Guardian” and the “London Review of Books.” He currently lives with his wife and children in Dunedin New Zealand.

Liam McIlvanney’s “All the Colours of the Town” introduces Gerry Conway, a Glasgow journalist that just received a call about a possible lead on unsavory information on Peter Lyons the Scottish Justice Minister. His instinct tells him that the scoop may not be worth his time or that of “The Tribune.” But as he becomes even more curious and gets more leads, he has to go to Belfast where there has been an interesting development. He is shocked by the hatred, the prejudice and sectarian violence he has to confront in his quest for truth. Gerry is soon obsessing over the evil that Lyons and his ilk represent and becomes even more determined to unmask the man. Even though he had previously been skeptical he comes to believe there is a huge story to be had. But the people involved will do anything to ensure that the scandal does not come to light. Liam writes a thrilling, complex and compelling narrative on duty, loyalty, and betrayal.

In the second novel of the Conway Trilogy “Where the Dead Men Go,” Gerry Conway is back home and working at the Glasgow Tribune. But he has been away for three years which is a long time in the news business. The Tribune has run into headwinds with editorial standards slipping, readers dwindling and budgets tightening. He used to be the star journalist but now has to play second fiddle to Martin Moir, a crime reporter and his former protege. But he gets his chance to get back into the limelight when Moir goes missing just as a big story breaks. He is charged with covering a gangland shooting and he could not be happier until Moir turns up dead in a flooded quarry. He is forced to go deeper into the underworld to try to find justice for his murdered colleague. In the criminal underworld, he has to face up to newspaper bosses, ambitious politicians, and hostile gangsters. As he investigates, he learns that he never lost his instinct for a good story though that is the last thing the city fathers want to hear as they prepare to host the Commonwealth Games. It is a great story that explored the intersection of politics and crime in New Scotland.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Liam McIlvanney

One Response to “Liam McIlvanney”

  1. Andrew Hoffman: 2 years ago

    I’ve been reading the William McIvanney DI Jack Laidlaw books and stumbled on the Quaker by his son Liam . Originally introduced to William McIlvanney reading Ian Rankin – The Dark Remains.


Leave a Reply