Friday 5 October 2018

Ed's Dead by Russel D McLean @RusseldMcLean #EdsDead - My Life In Books

Meet Jen, who works in a bookshop and likes the odd glass of Prosecco...oh, and she's about to be branded The Most Dangerous Woman in Scotland. Jen Carter is a failed writer with a rubbish boyfriend, Ed. That is, until she accidentally kills him one night. Now that Ed s dead, she has to decide what to do with his body, his drugs and a big pile of cash. And, more pressingly, how to escape the hitman who s been sent to recover Ed s stash. Soon Jen s on the run from criminals, corrupt police officers and the prying eyes of the media. Who can she trust? And how can she convince them that the trail of corpses left in her wake are just accidental deaths? A modern noir that proves, once and for all, the female of the species really is more deadly than the male.

Ed's Dead by Russel D McLean was published in March last year by Saraband.
I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books

My Life in Books - Russel D McLean

This is honestly one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. My life has always been books – from compulsive reading as a child, through to my long time job as a bookseller, and now as a writer and part time editor, everything I do revolves around books. I could easily double or triple this list (as it is, I know I’m at the maximum allowed - saying “eight to twelve” to someone like me is probably a mistake!) These are all books that had an impact on me at various points in life, and I know I’ll have missed so many authors and books out, but each of these books has a bit of a meaning for me on my continued journey as a reader.

Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
When I was a kid, this book really affected me. Following young Milo, a very bored boy, who takes a ride through a mysterious tollbooth and ends fighting to get out of the doldrums, and discovering various bizarre worlds where metaphors and numbers are ingeniously brought to life, it’s a tribute to the imagination that I’d still happily go back and read today, and was my go-to recommend for children’s books back in my bookselling days!

The Three Investigators series by Various (allegedly Alfred Hitchcock)
Bit of a cheat to include an entire series? Maybe, but this series was a true addiction when I was growing up. Focussing on three young investigators who worked out of a hidden base in a junkyard, it felt much more real to me than the Hardy Boys (each of the three had a clear weakness alongside a unique strength or capability) and much more fun, especially as many of their cases were given to them by the film director, Alfred Hitchcock. This changed later in the series, but the Alfred Hitchcock novels were the ones I loved.

Bury me Deep by Megan Abbott
Her more contemporary, novels have seen Megan Abbott become a literary phenomenon in the US, with Dare Me currently being adapted for TV. But I discovered her work back when she took the traditions of 30s and 40s noir, and filtered them through the eyes of women who were far more than just molls and femme-fatales. The results were incredible. But this particular book, based on the real life case of the “suitcase killer” Winnie Judd, is something very special indeed.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
I adore a good horror novel, and while the epistolary nature of Dracula might drag a little for modern readers, it remains a triumph of construction and atmosphere, and still has the power to give me the shivers.

Complicity by Iain Banks
Bit of a story attached to this one – my dad was looking to move me onto more adult books and reading when I was a teenager, around fifteen or so, I guess, and was told that Banks was the man to go to by a bookseller. So he bought complicity. Which is one of Banks’s most explicit books in terms of sex and violence (My dad didn’t know that, of course!). I bloody loved it, but neither of us could ever really discuss the book much for several years because of this, beyond agreeing it was a damn good read. I had the good fortune to meet Banks years later, and told him about this. He just smiled, rather knowingly, I thought.

Dr BloodMoney (Or, How We Got Along After the Bomb) by Philip K Dick
Back when I was studying for my fourth year exams, we had to do a “review of personal reading” where we chose a book to write an essay about as part of the final assessment. I chose this one, as it was one of the few Dicks I had not read at this point. It’s both his longest novel, and his most hopeful, about a society rebuilding after a nuclear bomb hits the world. Of course, it has a sentient foetus, an astronaut orbiting the earth and acting as a DJ,
and some truly bizarre moments, but is totally overlooked when people talk about Dick, and I think is ripe for rediscovery.

Mr Majestyk by Elmore Leonard
I could have chosen any Leonard book, really, but Mr Majestyk was one of the first crime novels my dad gave me to read, and it showcases the Leonard ability to tell a propulsive and lean story with no muss, and no fuss. And the movie, starring Charles Bronson as the put-upon Melon Farmer of the title, is surprisingly good, too.

Money Shot by Christa Faust
I sometimes feel like Christa Faust’s name needs to be shouted loudly from the rooftops – her work needs to be read by far more people. I first read Christa’s work when we were on a panel together at Bouchercon, and I was instantly hooked. Money Shot is a sharply observed, brilliantly written thriller set in the world of LA’s porn industry. Angel Dare is a wonderful creation, and while she has appeared in a sequel – Choke Hold – I want to see even more of her. If, like me, you love Christa’s work and don’t mind a little oddity, you really want to check out her insane and brilliant Lucha-Noir novel, Hoodtown.

Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti
Manotti’s first novel is a wonderful, powerful and evocative glimpse into a side of Paris we never see, combining Manotti’s powerful political writing with her ability to truly sear into the moral quandaries of France’s political contradictions, it also features an incredible lead in the form of Gay Parisian detective, Inspector Danquin.

Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block
As with Leonard, I could have picked almost any of Block’s Scudder novels, as the quintessential NYC private investigator is one of the most powerfully realised crime fiction characters of the last century. Turned into a terrible movie in the mid eighties (with an admittedly great turn from Jeff Bridges as Scudder), this is actually one of the finest in the series, with our hero finally turning a corner and acknowledging his problem with alcohol.

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series gives us a brilliant perspective on the changing times in America through the eyes of a black PI, and this first in the series is also one of the most powerful. A game changer of a novel for me, it was one of the first to show me how you married politics, history, sense of place and character wrapped up in a compelling mystery. Every book by Mosley is a masterclass, but this one is the perfect place to start.

The Singer by Cathi Unsworth
Not quite a crime novel, not quite a literary novel, but definitely, wholeheartedly Noir, this book introduced to one of the most criminally overlooked British authors of the last few decades – Cathi Unsworth. At once the story of a journalist’s search for a missing legend of punk, whose fate is shrouded in violent mystery, and a retrospective on the birth of an anarchically exciting music scene in Britain of the late 70s, this book blew me away on first re-reading, and is one I’ll press into almost anyone’s hand.

Russel D McLean - October 2018 

Russel D McLean is the author of five novels featuring Scottish PI J. McNee. In order of release, they are: The Good Son, The Lost Sister, Father Confessor, Mothers of the Disappeared and Cry Uncle. His latest novel is a standalone thriller set in Glasgow. And When I Die.

McLean's short stories have been published in a variety of markets including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, the 2007 anthology Expletive Deleted, where 'Pedro Paul' was singled out by Publisher's Weekly as "awesomely dark", the "Geezer Noir" anthology Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying and the forthcoming (2015) Mammoth Book of Professor Moriarty Adventures.

He has previously run the highly regarded noir fiction ezine Crime Scene Scotland, and now writes reviews for newspapers in the UK and various other markets as well as working as a freelance editor and events chair. His reviews and interviews with authors have appeared in the Independent on Sunday, the TLS, The Skinny and he wrote a regular crime column for The Sunday Herald (Scotland) from 2014-16. In addition he regularly blogs with the Do Some Damage crew (, a collective of noir writers from the US and the UK. 

His official website can be found at

He spent over a decade in Dundee, and now lives in Glasgow.

Follow him on Twitter @RusseldMcLean

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