Gerry Conway has returned to journalism after three years in the wilderness of public relations. The Glasgow Tribune he returns to is a very different newspaper from the one he left, or was asked to leave. Circulations are falling for newspapers everywhere, and the Glasgow Tribune's owners are responding by cutting costs, cutting staff numbers, combining jobs and increasing workloads. The sense of an industry in near terminal decline is all-pervasive and very convincingly portrayed. Gerry Conway has other problems too. His one time protege and now the newspaper's star crime reporter, Martin Moir, is not returning his calls, and when a gangland killing takes place Gerry has to cover for his absent friend as well as do his own job.
When Martin Moir turns up dead in a flooded quarry, Conway finds himself doubling up permanently as the newspaper's political correspondent and its chief crime reporter. And all the while he is trying to combine two jobs with two families: his new young family in Glasgow and his sons from a previous marriage living with his ex-wife and her new husband in Ayrshire. Still worse, it becomes clear that the police are satisfied that Moir's death is suicide, even though those who knew him best think otherwise. Gerry Conway is drawn ever more deeply into Glasgow's criminal underworld as he seeks to discover the truth about what happened to Martin Moir, even though his investigation might be placing himself and those he loves at risk.
"Where the Dead Men Go" by Liam McIlvanney is a beautifully crafted and superbly told contribution to what some are calling "Glasgow Noir". The fact that the protagonist is a journalist rather than a detective gives the narrative a very attractive quality. Gerry Conway is at times driving the action around him, but at other times he finds himself going along for the ride, on one occasion literally. There are some nice twists and turns, and the occasional false summit, as the story moves towards its compelling conclusion. The end result is a book that leaves you wanting more. Pleasingly, there is more. This book is described as "the second book in the Conway Trilogy". The first, "All the Colours of the Town" was published in 2010 and covered the events leading up to Gerry Conway's earlier departure from journalism. The third... well we don't know, but we will certainly look out for it with keen anticipation!