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Though Glasgow's rates of homicide and violent crime are mild compared to many American or African cities, the city has long had a reputation as the “murder capital of Europe”. Compared to nearby Edinburgh, it's easy to see why people often think of Glasgow as more “gritty” and dangerous.
Because of that reputation, you'll find quite a few wonderful mysteries and crime novels set in Glasgow. Below, we take a look at some of our favourites.
9 Brilliant & Gritty Crime Novels Set in Glasgow, Scotland
The books below are in no particular order.
The Twilight Time
Author: Karen Campbell
Someone has been carving up local prostitutes, and detective Anna Cameron has been plunged headfirst into it. Unfortunately, a new job in Glasgow's Flexi Unit means she'll also be working the case alongside her ex, Jamie.
Meanwhile, Jamie's wife Cath watches from the sidelines, having given up police work to look after their child. Either woman could have found herself in the opposite place, had circumstances been different. When Cath attempts to get involved in the case, it puts everyone at risk.
Author: Douglas Skelton
This book is true crime author Douglas Skelton's first attempt at fiction, and it takes an unusual approach to the crime novel. Instead of following a detective, it follows henchman Davie McCall. After years of abuse from his father, he finds a relatively happy place in the world of organised crime.
He's a pretty good guy, as bad guys go – abhorring the abuse of women, hating foul language, and refusing to get involved in drugs. Unfortunately, the time comes when he's all but forced into things he doesn't want to do – and a young reporter makes him wonder if perhaps he could go straight.
THE DARK REMAINS
Author: William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin
Often referred to as the father of tartan noir, William McIlvanney passed away in 2015, leaving behind a set of notes for an unfinished novel. Rebus author Ian Rankin – arguably his greatest successor – took on the challenging task of finishing it. The book represents the first ever case of famed Glasgow detective DC Jack Laidlaw.
The book is set in 1970s Glasgow, and lawyer Bobby Carter has been found dead in the alley behind a pub protected by a local crime boss. We soon find that Carter had a habit of working for the wrong sort of people, and his death creates a gap in the local criminal world. Though Laidlaw's boss thinks it's a case of run-of-the-mill gang violence, Laidlaw things there's more going on.
The Bonnie Dead
Author: Andrew Raymond
Five years ago, DCI John Lomond worked a case that would become his own personal obsession. Until forced off the case by personal tragedy, he pursued an inhuman child killer known only as “The Sandman”. In his absence, the case remained unsolved, and the killer went into a period of dormancy.
When a child is abducted from an affluent Glasgow suburb, the case has all the hallmarks of the previous cases – and Lomond is brought in to help before it's too late. Unfortunately, the only forensic evidence belongs to a little girl abducted and murdered 20 years earlier.
Author: Val McDermid
With 1979, celebrated Scottish author Val McDermid takes us into the world of Allie Burns, a young investigative journalist in 1970s Glasgow. Burns is a woman in a man's world, desperate to make her mark and get away from all the “womens's stories” her bosses push her way.
She pairs up with Danny Sullivan, an aspiring investigative journalist, and the two begin pursuing the kind of stories that create serious enemies. When Danny is found murdered, she realises they may have upset the wrong person.
Never Somewhere Else
Author: Alex Gray
After three young women are found strangled in a Glasgow park, DCI Lorimer comes under immense pressure to find the killer. Frustrated and seemingly at a dead end, Lorimer enlists the aid of Dr. Solomon Brightman, a talented psychologist and criminal profiler.
Their uneasy alliance will lead them from a homeless man to the highest reaches of the local art world, offering a glimpse into what lies just beneath the polite surface of the city.
Murder in the Gallowgate
Author: Daniel Sellers
After a miserable holiday alone, detective Lola Harris returns to work to find she's been assigned to a high-stakes investigation in the historic Gallowgate neighbourhood. A gruesome and ritualistic scene awaits her, but something is missing – the body.
A smashed-up phone at the scene puts her on the trail of a vanished local politician and a controversial artist who died thirty years ago on a remote Hebridean island. To prevent the killer from striking again, Lola will have to work fast – and she'll have to do it with one of Glasgow's most obnoxious detectives.
Ways to die in Glasgow
Author: Jay Stringer
Mackie is a violent drunk with a broken heart, a missing ex-gangster uncle, and a dead dog. PI Sam Ireland is a woman hired by hotshot lawyers to help find that missing uncle.
As Mackie and Sam both work in pursuit of the same goal – finding uncle Rab – the city's worst inhabitants are taking notice.
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter
Author: Malcolm Mackay
Calum MacLean is a freelance hitman with a simple task ahead of him. He must take out Lewis Winter, a small-time drug dealer who's been stepping on some powerful toes.
Unfortunately for MacLean, his job constitutes just the first step in what will become an all-out war amongst Glasgow's criminal classes. This book marks the first in a series about up-and-coming hitman Calum MacLean's work.
Looking for More British Crime Novels?
No worries, we have plenty of suggestions:
- Gritty British Crime Novels Set in Newcastle
- JD Kirk's DCI Jack Logan Book Series
- The Best British Locked Room Mysteries
- Mystery Novels Set in Edinburgh, Scotland