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Douglas Skelton ‘The Hollow Mountain’ (Book Review)

In terms of crime fiction, few writers have the stylistic range that Douglas Skelton does. Previous series include the Glaswegian grit of Davie McCall, the maverick gumshoe with Marlowe aspirations that was Dominic Queste, and his current swashbuckling historical spy series The Company of Rogues (which is also well worth your attention).

The Hollow Mountain is the latest in the Rebecca Connolly series, following the titular journalist and her close coterie of trusted companions as they get drawn into contemporary crimes which have links to miscarriages of justice from the past. This time, Skelton moves the action from Inverness-shire to Glasgow, and he has a grand old time returning to the scene of many of his previous crimes, while bringing the depiction of the city right up to date.

The historical trigger this time round is the story of the Tunnel Tigers, an elite group of construction workers hired for the project to clear rocks from, and tunnel through, the inside of Ben Cruachan, giving the novel its evocative name.

Rebecca is asked to investigate the mysterious death of one of the Tigers by enigmatic cultural icon Alice Larkin, whose memoirs are key to learning the truth. It’s a typical Douglas Skelton twist on how a tale can be told that her story is revealed to us at the same time it is to Rebecca. There are many strands to the plot, touching on familiar faces, family secrets, political machinations, and at least one terrible event which will shock regular readers.

You can read The Hollow Mountain as a stand-alone story, but if you do I think you’ll want to get the fullest picture and read them all. Douglas Skelton has written a series that takes non- stereotypical yet recognisable characters to places you wouldn’t usually find in crime fiction, both literally and psychologically. Having a complete understanding of the genre, he plays with readers’ perceptions but never ignores them, resulting in a read which is both fresh and familiar.


The Hollow Mountain is published by Polygon Books. Buy here.

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