It’s been an Orenda binge time for me recently and I am delighted to be supporting Scottish author David F Ross and his latest novel, “Welcome to the Heady Heights”. Thanks to Anne over at Randomthingstours for inviting me onto the tour, to the author and to the publisher for the advanced copy for review.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realized. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank “Heady” Hendricks, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail. A hilarious, poignant nod to the elusivity of stardom, in an age when “making it” was “having it all,” Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a heartwarming tribute to the 1970s and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.
Glasgow 1976, the hottest summer of my childhood and this is where “Welcome to the Heady Heights” kicks off. Immediately strong memories are evoked, anyone who lives in Glasgow and was around in this year will know where I’m coming from! I found myself hurtling back in time as I settled down with Archie Blunt.
David Ross has created a fantastic sense of place from the outset as Archie is found reflecting in the famous Glasgow Necropolis; this is matched with an impeccable sense of time with reference given to the Tennents Lovelies on the famous cans of Scottish lager. In Heady Heights, Glasgow is as much of a character as the people in the book. It’s vibrancy along with it’s dark underbelly comes to life as you turn each page. It is no secret to readers of my blog that I love Scottish crime fiction and that I particularly love it set in my hometown and David Ross reminded me of just why I love it so much. Glasgow lends itself beautifully to the written word, it is a city of many layers and the author peels each of these layers back to allow the reader a glimpse of what lies beneath.
Archie is one of those typical Glesga guys, the kind that nearly made it and have a pocketful of stories to share. Anyone who lives in Glasgow knows an Archie in their life. It was impossible not to warm to him; his dad, Stanley, has dementia and his wife tragically died at a young age. Archie finds himself with a new job and a chance opportunity might be the road to a new life for this 52 year old. I found myself rooting for Archie all the way. I found the scenes with his dad particularly poignant and heartbreaking too. Archie made me laugh and he made me cry. I think he stole a little bit of my heart if I’m honest!
Littered with the everyday sexism and non pc language that was the 1970s, it has corrupt politicians, music, secrets and lies. WPC Barbara Sherman, nicknamed Tank by the chauvinist team she works in. Her character provides a stark reminder of what life was like for women in the workforce in that era. We watch, as relegated to the sidelines to tidy up the missing persons files, she starts to unravel a mystery that will connect her to Archie and his discovery.
Trademark Glaswegian humour shines through as does the author’s love of music as we watch Archie and his motley crew form an act to appear on top TV show, Heady Heights, reminiscent of Opportunity Knocks in the same era – this was the reality TV of the 70s, it wasn’t pretty!
But it’s not all showbiz and black humour. Underneath Archie Blunt uncovers a dark secret which if revealed could have far reaching implications. The pacing is just right with the injection of tension as the plot unfolds but with enough breathing spaces for you to catch a breath.
There’s laughter and tears throughout as once again David F Ross presents readers with a colourful, relatable and engaging cast of characters. He takes them and places them in a time and a setting that will have those of you who are of a similar age to me, look back with both fondness and horror at the decade. Passing reference to other characters will spark some recognition in the reader’s mind as the author gives a poignant nod to some of the more unsavoury aspects of show business back in the 60s and 70s. He expertly weaves the seemingly unconnected characters and their stories into a smooth and perfectly executed plot.
An outstanding exploration of character, secrets and that dark underbelly of my hometown of Glasgow in the 1970s, “Welcome to the Heady Heights” is not to be missed!
Welcome to the Heady Heights is available to purchase from:
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About the author:
|David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.|