Glasgow in 1958 is a city still trying to overcome the damage it suffered during World War Two. And many of those living in the city are trying to come to terms with the damage, physical or psychological, that they suffered in the same conflict. Lennox is one of them. A Canadian by birth and upbringing, the things he saw and did during the war in Europe were more than enough to mess him up to the point where he doesn't want to go home. Not until he has made his peace with the demons still haunting him, anyway. So, instead, Lennox has ended up in Glasgow, running a private investigation agency and trying to evade his demons by turning to alcohol and women. Over the years he has built a business that at times has teetered on the sharp divide between the legitimate and the definitely less legitimate. Helping clients seeking divorces provides an income, and Lennox is trying to put behind him his less savoury and less legal activities, doing work for Glasgow's leading gangsters. But then he is made an offer that seems too good to be true.
Lennox has built up a wide circle of contacts and acquaintances during his time in Glasgow, and a few good friends. One of them is Quiet Tommy Quaid, a man with his own demons, which are also relics of the war. Quaid is a man who is universally liked, even by the police. Which is odd, as he is a professional thief, the best in the business. When Quiet Tommy Quaid meets an unexpected death in very odd circumstances, Lennox feels he has to find out exactly what happened, and why. Was the death an accident, or was there more to it? Did Quiet Tommy Quaid have enemies as a result of his wartime service, or was his death the result of his more recent activities?
"The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid" by Craig Russell tells the story of Lennox's investigation into the death of his friend. It isn't giving much away to suggest that if the death had simply been an unfortunate accident, then there wouldn't be much of a book to read. The question rapidly resolves into one of who killed Quaid, and how, and, most importantly, why. And central to the plot is whether Lennox can answer those questions without getting killed himself. There are plenty of plot twists to keep the reader engaged and turning the page and the central character of Lennox is one we end up genuinely caring about, despite all his obvious failings and a tendency, on occasion, to extreme violence. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable book that can be highly recommended. It's nice to come across an example of Tartan Noir with a historical setting, and the Glasgow of the 1950s emerges from the pages sufficiently convincingly to keep the reader immersed, despite not being entirely anachronism-free. The marina at Inverkip, which features late in the book, opened in 1971.