Blog Tour Review, The Dark Remains

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The Dark Remains

289 pages
Cannongate Books
9th June 2022

Amazon | Goodreads

Two crime-writing legends join forces for the first ever case of DI Laidlaw: the original gritty Glasgow detective who inspired an entire genre

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw trilogy changed the face of crime fiction in the 1970s and 1980s, inspiring an entire generation of crime writers including Mark Billiangham, Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre – and Ian Rankin.

When McIlvanney died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case – his first new novel in 25 years. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started.

In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and the relentless quest for truth.

“[William McIlvanney] kicked the door open so the likes of Ian Rankin,
Denise Mina and me could sneak through behind him” – VAL McDERMID

With his iconic Laidlaw trilogy, McIlvanney launched a new genre – introducing to the world the original Glasgow detective with a knowledge of the streets, and an equal love of alcohol and philosophy.

McIlvanney’s books fell out of print in the 1990s, and he believed himself forgotten; it was only when they were republished in 2013 to huge acclaim, that he realised the esteem in which he was held by his fellow writers. He was inspired to start writing again and began The Dark Remains – left unfinished on his death in 2015, and which Ian Rankin has now completed.

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong kind of people. When his body is found in an alley behind a pub that is known to be under the protective wing of a local crime boss, the fragile equilibrium that has been keeping Glasgow relatively safe for months is shattered. Besides a distraught family and any number of powerful friends, Carter has left behind his fair share of enemies. So who is responsible for his death?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks Carter’s death up to the usual rivalries, but Laidlaw knows it can’t be that simple. As two Glasgow gangs go to war, he needs to find Carter’s killer before the whole city explodes.


“Fantastic – like witnessing Scottish noir’s Big Bang creation in the company of its greatest living exponent”

“A gripping and atmospheric novel” – Times Crime Book of the Month

“McIlvanney and Rankin are the dream team. To have Rankin completing an unfinished McIlvanney novel is a crime fiction fan’s dream come true”

“The personality of the tough, intelligent Laidlaw leaps off the page as readily as it did in the first novel that bore his name” – Financial Times

“Mean, moody and menacing. Perfect synchronicity from two of the best crime writers of our time”

“Two legends of Scottish crime fiction blended like a deluxe whisky”

“[Rankin’s] dialogue has the same spiky wit [as McIlvanney’s], he adjusts to gangster-ridden Glasgow with aplomb, and the deft period context – politics, pop, telly, football, booze brands, language, family and marital mores etc – is the most compelling reason to read the book besides its charismatic existentialist sleuth” – Sunday Times

“Two maestros for the price of one! All fans of quality crime fiction are in for a rare treat. McIlvanney and Rankin at the very height of their powers.”

“It was sheer joy to hear McIlvanney’s voice once more and be transported back to 1972 and the Glasgow of Jack Laidlaw . . . It would be impossible to calculate just how many writers have been influenced by him”

“A delight of a book, with beautifully drawn characters. Rankin’s sublime narrative is indistinguishable from that of McIlvanney himself”


I love a period piece that really gives you the vibe of the times and this book did that.  A crime noir set in the 1970s, it is gritty and real. There are references to the news, TV and music of the time.  The characters are great, and I love the dry humor.  Laidlaw has a unique way of doing things that rubs his partner the wrong way.  I haven’t read the rest of the Laidlaw series, but that did not stop me from enjoying this one.

I think anyone that enjoys the process as much as the conclusion, will appreciate this collaboration.



“Most of us writing crime fiction today are standing on the shoulders of giants. McIlvanney is one such giant.” – MARK BILLINGHAM

“The pure distilled essence of Scottish crime writing” – PETER MAY

“McIlvanney is the original Scottish criminal mastermind”


“Ian Rankin is a genius” – LEE CHILD

“A master storyteller” – Guardian

“One of Britain’s leading novelists in any genre”

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