Cameron Colley is a writer for an Edinburgh newspaper. He smokes and drinks and takes illegal substances. He is also engrossed in a computer game called Despot. He starts to get tip offs about a serious of murders from several years ago with military connections and thinks he may be onto a scoop. At the same time someone is going around murdering or torturing businessmen with dubious ethical records, a judge and a snuff movie watcher. The police link Cameron to the present day murders and the informant has been framing Cameron. Cameron must think hard about who the murderer could be to get himself out of the predicament.
This report prepared by John Marcel
Iain Banks' masterpiece is a complex murder mystery with a sharp real-world feel that sets it apart from genre crime fiction. His use of the present tense sucks the reader in as Cameron Colley, hack journalist, tries to unravel a series of bizarre murders, then, with a jolt, the novel changes to second person ('you') to show the murders in great detail. This is Banks' masterstroke as in doing this he both hides the identity of the murderer & makes us feel complicit in the dreadful acts. It is truly a stunning work of fiction and confirms Iain Banks as without parallel when it comes to contemporary fiction with a deeply black edge.
This report prepared by Claire Baldwin