When Alan Jones emailed me about reading his book The Cabinetmaker he described it as a gritty crime novel based in Glasgow that tells the story of a local cabinetmaker, Francis Hare, father of a murdered son, and John McDaid, a young detective on the investigation.
He went on to say that it contained some strong language, some sleazy police and a smattering of Glasgow slang, which did make me unsure I wanted to read it. But he also said that it combined Glasgow gang culture, sloppy policing and amateur football with fine furniture making and taking that into account I thought that it probably wouldn’t be your normal run-of-the mill crime fiction.
And I was right – it is different and I did like it, despite some of the language (which actually is no worse than in some other books) and there are no truly gruesome descriptions to put me off. In parts I thought it lost focus somewhat, the crime and justice aspects becoming a bit lost in a wealth of detail about football and furniture making, but apart from that it is a intricately plotted book which had me totally gripped. By the end of the book I realised that there is a purpose to those chapters beyond Alan Jones’s obvious love of football and furniture making. Within them lie the clues to what was really going on in Francis and John’s lives.
The Cabinetmaker follows John McDaid’s life from his first day as a detective up to his retirement in 2008, focussing on one crime – the killing of Patrick Hare, a student by a gang of thugs in Glasglow’s west end. The killers were tried but walked free. From that point onward the story is of John and Francis and their search for justice. Patrick’s death was a turning point in their lives and although they become friends through a shared interest in football and cabinet making, under pinning everything is their desire for justice.
There are many characters, including police and villains and at times some of them did begin to blur in my mind, with the exception of Francis, John and Sarah, Patrick’s girl friend, who all stand out as vivid and believable people. There are many twists and turns in the story, before the full truth is revealed. It’s a novel of loss and retribution.
There are four free sample chapters on Alan Jones’s website, www.thecabinetmaker.info, along with extra content including an interactive Glasgow map, an audio ‘Glasgow slang’ dictionary, a glossary of cabinetry terms and some videos of the ‘Street Cabinetmaking’ book launch.
Alan Jones (his pen name) is Scottish, living on the Clyde coast. I see from this interview on Omnimystery News that he is writing another book – I’ll be looking out for it.