David F Ross made a striking entrance to Scottish fiction last year with his debut novel, The Last Days of Disco, and his latest work continues in much the same vein.
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas picks up the threads of the previous book and runs with them, seeing dreams of music stardom and small town gangsters colliding in blackly humorous and downright dangerous ways.
Where Disco concerned itself with a mobile disco, Vespas is about a band who score an unlikely hit single in the early 1980s. What they share is the setting – Kilmarnock – and much of the same mix of ambitious dreamers and gangsters who want to recoup their moneyback off the back of the band’s success.
How you will respond to the book will largely grow out of how you feel
about a novel beginning with a cast of players in the style of a Shakespeare play. If you take it as a tongue-in-cheek gag then you’ll enjoy the rest of the book’s irreverent style.
However, if that grates then you may struggle.
No matter, the cast list is a useful feature as the story itself is so packed with characters that it can be hard to keep track.
The novel succeeds on the strength of the characters with the band themselves a well-drawn and sympathetic creation, while their manager Max Mojo, a hoodlum recreating himself as a Malcolm McLaren style impresario will live long in the memory.
Published by Orenda