"Wrecked" by Tony Black is the fifth in the author's Gus Dury series of novels and is an excellent read. Dury is back in Edinburgh and feeling good. He's climbing the greasy pole of life and managing to get a foothold above the ground for once. He has a job as a journalist, is off the booze, and taking each day at a time. He even has wheels, though they don't belong to the series seven Beemer of his dreams. They're held together by rust and his not so trusty motor is leaking oil by the bucket load. Dury, however, is keeping it clean, claiming to have jacked in his former life. But that's until someone makes him an offer he can't refuse and the draw of the big money turns his head.
Black's characterisation is solid. Dury is likeable enough, though those who are close to him might say otherwise. He is a risk-taker and his associates are at the dodgy end of the spectrum, but he has a heart and deep down he harbours a well-honed sense of justice. So when he is asked to try and trace someone who has gone missing and return him to his employer in return for a hefty pay cheque, he doesn't ask too many questions before he commits himself to the task. And at first it seems he's set to earn some easy money, as he is quick to deliver the goods and claim his bounty. But then the Police coming knocking at his door and tell him that the man he's just found has now been tortured to death. It seems he's dropped himself in it big time and there is no way out.
Dury is in over his head and enlists the help of his long suffering mates Hod and Mac to help him uncover what's behind the man's death. He doesn't expect to encounter warring drug gangs and bent cops, but they are all out there. As things go from bad to worse Dury turns to his stash of booze for solace, but even that doesn't help. It just delivers an even sorer head and leaves him regretting he ever took the job, because now, his "proper job" is no more. Add in a troubled ex, who gets drawn in to help, and you have the recipe for a tense page turner from beginning to end.
Black is not only an excellent storyteller, but the settings he uses will be recognisable to anyone who knows Edinburgh well and who has travelled out beyond the city into East Lothian. It's not necessary for the reader to know the locations because they come vividly to life, but it certainly adds to the sense of realism that Black creates through his writing if you do. Leith plays a big part in this book and has a character all of its own. It's gritty, at times scary, but it gets under the skin; much as it does to those who live or have ever lived there. "Wrecked" is, as I said at the beginning of this review, an excellent read. No spoilers here though, so you are going to have to get a copy and read it for yourself!