Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement

Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Douglas Skelton’s new thriller, A Rattle of Bones, has been hailed by the Sunday Post as ‘[a] compelling thriller, laced with dark humour’. We couldn’t agree more. Scrupulously plotted, with a lead character who is both rebellious and irresistible, Skelton does a cracking job in his tale of injustice and mystery (with a thunderous echo from the past in the form of the Appin Murder rumbling into the present). Grab a cuppa and read an extract here.

And if that leaves you wanting to know more about the Appin Murder of 1752, turn to James Hunter and The Appin Murder: The Killing that Shook a Nation. Hunter tells the true and tragic story of James Stewart, hanged for the murder of Colin Campbell.

We are delighted to announce a new signing to our Polyon poetry list – Alycia Pirmohamed, winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and co-founder of the Scottish BAME Writers’ Network. Alycia’s debut collection, Another Way to Split Water will be published in summer 2022. Welcome aboard Alycia!

Ian Williams has a voice that demands to be heard as he warns of China’s new tyranny. Every Breath You Take has been reviewed this week in the Irish Times: ‘a persuasive, alarming wake-up call’. Missed it? You can read it here. [£] And the author has a new article in the Spectator, China’s Belt and Road to Damascus which is compulsive reading: ‘Being repressive and corrupt have long been useful assets for gaining the friendship of Beijing, but its recent embrace of the ‘Butcher of Damascus’, Bashar al-Assad, carries reputational and other risks for China – even when it doesn’t have much of a reputation to lose’. [Spectator, £]

‘A fascinating historical “what-if?” thriller set in an alternative Britain in 1944 and 1945. What if Hitler’s Nazi Germany had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by detonating a nuclear bomb over London in December 1944? What if they had been able to bring the USA to heel by threatening to detonate another on board a submarine off New York?’ – Alistair Moffat’s The Night Before Morning gets the Undiscovered Scotland seal of approval. [Undiscovered Scotland]Keeping an eye on the Olympics? If you just can’t get enough, our own Lottie Dod, The World’s First Female Sports Superstar, was a silver medallist in Archery at the 1908 Olympics, many years after her teenage tennis superstardom. Read all about her in Little Wonder by Sasha Abramsky (‘the perfect summer read’ according to BBC Radio London).

Fresh summer sunshine on a plate! Dig into this Gazpacho Salad from Ghillie Basan in her Scottish Brunch Bible. Low on effort, spectacular on the plate and very high on taste.Something really special – Alexander McCall Smith was persuaded to read his own poetry for the audiobook edition of his collection, In a Time of Distance, which brings a note of calm to this troubled world. Published this week.

And (drumroll)…. Scotland Street will return to the pages of the Scotsman newspaper on 9 August. Just a few more sleeps to go!Human-powered and a mighty effort. As you relax in the Summer heat (ok, it might be clouding over a little), spare a thought for Paul Murton who explored the picturesque town of Dunkeld on a Victorian tricycle and found it a tad uncomfortable. Read the extract from his latest book, The Highlands, here.

And finally… the life of our own, much-loved novelist Isla Dewar is celebrated in the Guardian today. Isla, author of It Takes One to Know One and A Day Like Any Other, died on 20 June 2021. Her obituary in the Guardian is written by Margaret Clayton and is the perfect tribute. [Guardian]

Team Birlinn