Author: Peter May
Performed by Peter Forbes
Released: December 2014 on Audible by Quercus
Category: Mystery, Murder, Crime, Historical, Audiobook, Book Review
In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year’s end three returned, and returned damaged. In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades.
Beginning with a murder in 2015, both murderer and victim’s identities initially unknown, it forces three friends to face the events that determined the path their lives would take fifty years ago.
Glasgow 2015 and Jack Mackay is visiting his old friend Maurie at the latter’s request. They’ve been friends since they were boys but haven’t seen each other for years, and now Maurie is dying. He wants Jack to take him to London. Someone from their past has been murdered and Maurie knows who killed him. He wants to put things right while he still can.
In 1965 music loving teenagers Jack, Maurie, Dave, Luke and Jeff left their homes in Glasgow lured by thoughts of stardom and the bright lights of London. Jack had formed the band Shuffle with the other boys a couple of years earlier. Being expelled from school was the motivation for his decision to run away and his friends decided he wasn’t going alone. On the way they managed to get Maurie’s cousin, Rachel, out of a very bad situation, one that would have far reaching consequences, especially for Maurie and Jack.
Five of us had run away that fateful night just over a month before. Only three of us would be going home. And nothing, nothing would ever be the same again.
Things hadn’t worked out as the boys had hoped, and hard lessons were learned. It was a subdued party of three who returned to Scotland and settled for an existence far removed from that of their dreams. And so all these years later Jack enlists the very reluctant services of his grandson, Ricky, to drive them to London and back to the past.
The narrative is well constructed with dual time lines running simultaneously, and moving seamlessly from one to the other. Jack narrates the events in the sixties from his perspective, while the present day is written in the third person. Evocative descriptions of 60s London with its colourful vibrancy and the exuberance and single mindedness of youth, contrasts sharply with the disenchantment of lives that didn’t meet expectations. Jack’s present day recollections of a time long gone unfold slowly and show how those past events have shaped all their lives, in most cases not for the better.
He picked up the photograph of Jenny and remembered how they had said goodbye that night. And here he was, all these years later, embarking on the same fruitless journey. One that could only, he suspected, end badly. And he recalled the words of his old history teacher. The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.
Although this is a character driven, slow burn of a story there is a murder mystery at its heart, but the main focus is the complexities of friendship and the tenuous quality of hopes and dreams. Peter May is adept at bringing his characters to life and adding lots of local colour and ambience to the settings. With several twists and a very unexpected reveal at the end, this was another excellent offering from a great storyteller. And once again, Peter Forbes’ narration is faultless.
Peter May’s books have sold several million copies worldwide and have won awards in the UK, the USA, and France. He is the author of the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
• the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell
• the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France
• several standalone novels including
– the multi award-winning Entry Island,
– Runaway, and his latest, entitled
– Coffin Road, which sees a return to the Outer Hebrides (January 2016, Quercus UK).
– I’ll Keep You Safe (January 2018, riverrun)
He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.
One of Scotland’s most prolific and successful television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama.
He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the high- est-rated drama serials in his homeland before quitting television to return to his first love, writing novels.
Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.