Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Title: Stonemouth

Author: Iain Banks

Number of pages: 368

Started: 22 December 2012

Finished: 16 January 2013

Opening words:

That would have been good.
Instead, a cold, clinging mist. Not even mist; just a chill haze, drifting up the estuary. I’m standing fifty metres above the Firth of Stoun, in the middle of the road bridge, at the summit of the long, shallow trajectory it describes above the waters. Below, wind-stroked lines of breakers track up the firth, ragged creases of thin foam moving east to west under the steady push of the breeze; each wave forming, breaking, widening, then collapsing again before new crests start to rise amongst their pale, streaked remains, the whole doomed army of them vanishing like ghosts into the upriver blur.

Plot summary:

Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After five 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.
An estuary town north of Aberdeen, Stonemouth, with it's five mile beach, can be beautiful on a sunny day. On a bleak one it can seem to offer little more than seafog, gangsters, cheap drugs and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. And although there's supposed to be a temporary truce between Stewart and the town's biggest crime family, it's soon clear that only Stewart is taking this promise of peace seriously. Before long a quick drop into the cold grey Stoun begins to look like the soft option, and as he steps back into the minefield of his past to confront his guilt and all that it has lost him, Stu uncovers ever darker stories, and his homecoming takes a more lethal turn than even he had anticipated.
Tough, funny, fast-paced and touching, Stonemouth cracks open adolescence, love, brotherhood and vengeance in a rite of passage novel like no other.
What I thought:

Stonemouth was the tale of Stewart Gilmour on his return to small town Scotland following his sudden departure a few years before.  As the story unfolds, it becomes clear why he had to leave in such a hurry (being engaged to the daughter of the local drug baron not being an insignificant factor).

In some ways I found the book a bit slow in places, but it also had some really great parts to it – the part where we are told of when Stewart and his school friends play paintball is a particularly good but sobering part and well worth a read.

I think this book is best read with a Scottish accent.  If you can’t do a good Scottish accent in your head then find a friendly Scot to read it to you.  It will enhance your experience greatly.

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