I bought this book in anticipation of going along to see the author at an Aye Write event in Glasgow last week. (You can read my review of the event here). After attending the panel I knew that I had to immediately bump it up my TBR pile! This promised to be very different from the usual “true crime” fiction on the shelves.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Russell Findlay spent decades taking on the most dangerous men in Scotland’s criminal un-derworld. Organised crime clans such as the Daniels, Lyons and McGoverns were unmasked by Findlay and his colleagues at the Sunday Mail and Scottish Sun. Also targeted were figures such as Paul Ferris, Frankie ‘Donuts’ Donaldson, Barry Hughes, James ‘Jasper’ McCann and Kevin ‘Gerbil’ Carroll.
Two days before Christmas 2015, Findlay became the target of an unprecedented at-tack. Disguised as a postman, William ‘Basil’ Burns came to the journalist’s home and hurled sulphuric acid in his face. But Burns then lost control of his knife and was overpowered by Findlay who handed him over to the police. Taking the botched hit as his starting point, Findlay unravels the identity of those suspected of hiring Burns, at the same time giving a unique insight into the criminal landscape of modern Scotland and explaining how journalists risk their safety to expose dangerous and depraved crime bosses. In some cases it is not just criminals they are up against – police, lawyers and even others within the media can conspire to make their work even more dangerous.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”…well Scotland might not be Denmark but there is something definitely rotten about the state of our justice system and the media’s courting of criminals as some kind of “Gangster Celebrity”. Investigative Journalist, Russell Findlay blows it all out of the water in this brilliant expose based on an attack on his life almost three years ago.
This is not the type of book to talk about plot, style of writing or about characters; it is a memoir of sorts but it is more than that. It is a book that highlights the corruption that exists in the very institutions designed to protect the victims of crime and attacks the media who continue to peddle “Gangster Lit” as some form of celebrity status where we are led to believe that the “bad guys” are just cheeky chappies who wouldn’t really hurt a fly!
I got angry when I read this book, not because it told me something I didn’t know but because it confirmed all that I suspected was true. I have seen first hand the dubious and corrupt practices that do nothing to protect the victims of crime; I have observed a society that is hellbent on criminalising a section of our society who probably deserve a ticking off as opposed to a criminal record, while standing back, watching and actively supporting the real bad guys as they walk free; a system which wastes time and public money while lining the pockets of the legal system who are all too happy to take the wads of dirty money to make the bad stuff go away; a system which demonstrates incompetence and inefficiency on a daily basis.
Acid Attack covers, not only organised crime but also looks at cases such as Peter Tobin; The World End Murders as well as miscarriages of justice which have never been resolved.Of course, not all of our lawyers, police and journalists are liars or corrupt. The book does not suggest they are. It does however, raise some serious questions about the very institutions we are supposed to trust. The optimist in me wants to believe that these bad apples are in the minority but it becomes difficult when we continue to see evidence on a daily basis that “crime does indeed pay” and very handsomely too. Something needs to change.
This is a hard-hitting novel; Russell Findlay has been attacked and vilified for his investigative journalism; for doing what he believes journalists should do, expose the truth for the public. He is to be admired for having the balls to stand up and speak out about what he believes and for taking a stand against corruption. If you want a sanitised version of our legal system and justice then this is not for you; if you are looking for “Gangster Lit” then it is probably not for you but if you are looking for a hard-hitting expose of what really happens behind the walls of our courts and media then I’d highly recommend you read this!
Acid Attack is available to purchase from: