Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Something rotten is happening in the town of Millport, on the island of Cumbrae. Plans are being made, money is being thrown around, an empire is being built… and people are getting murdered. A man has a stiletto thrust into his eye socket, another his windpipe brutally squeezed shut, whilst a kidnapped youth lies curled in a cage, unaware of what it is that lives inside him.
Meanwhile, at the local barbershop, Barney Thomson lives a quiet life, cutting hair, wishing his customers would stop talking, and happy that he doesn’t seem to be involved in the latest horror to be visited upon the town. However, as Barney has known for a long time, you can’t always get what you want, particularly when you don’t know what it is you want in the first place…
Anyone who has ever been to Millport will be transported back there as soon as they open this book, however, they might want to have their wits about them if it is a Millport devised from the imagination of author Douglas Lindsay.
This is the eighth in the Barney Thomson series but it is the first one that I have read and I feel that it works well as a standalone. However, like me, once you have read this you may well be intrigued enough to go back and catch up on the trials and tribulations of the strangest barber I have ever come across!
For those who are already acquainted with the books then the characters will be familiar to you. But with names such as Kneanu McPherson and DSI Frankenstein it was hard not to laugh!
This is a bizarre mix of humour and macabre and when I say these words I mean them literally – real laugh out moments with scenes that will make your toes curl (and without giving any spoilers you are going to be taking an extra long look at your fried rice before you put the fork to your mouth once you have read this one!)
The plot focuses around the Crane Corporation headed up by the odious Eldon Crane and their plans to turn Millport into a cross between Vegas and the Caymen Islands; combine this with a series of gruesome murders and a very twisted unknown narrator and the end result is a page turning cracker of a read!
The sense of place created is phenomenal. As a child I went to Millport on holiday almost every year and I’ve had many a fond trip back as an adult. Douglas Lindsay has described the island to a T making it instantly recognisable to those who know it and making it come alive for those who have never been. In amongst the murder and humour he has also created a real sense of community on the island and sends a topical and serious message about our sense of heritage and culture when faced with plans to turn some of our most beautiful landscapes into glorified theme parks.
Despite the crazy names, I kind of fell in love with Barney, Keanu and Igor, who is deaf and mute. There was something extremely endearing about this trio whose conversations range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Their interpretation of Igor’s only sound, Aarff, signals a strong bond of friendship that goes beyond the realms of communication.
The plot as I said, is both hilarious and gruesome and I want to say very little more about it other than what is contained in the blurb.
For me this was an excellent introduction and starting point to the world of Barney Thomson and I’m sure that I will be popping in to visit him again sometime very soon!
Aye Barney is available to purchase from: