Three days before her fifty-first birthday, Clio Campbell – one-hit-wonder, political activist, life-long-love and one-night-stand – kills herself in her friend Ruth’s spare bedroom. And, as practical as she is, Ruth doesn’t know what to do. Or how to feel. Because knowing and loving Clio Campbell was never straightforward.
To Neil, she was his great unrequited love. He’d known it since their days on picket lines as teenagers. Now she’s a sentence in his email inbox: Remember me well.
The media had loved her as a sexy young starlet, but laughed her off as a ranting spinster as she aged. But with news of her suicide, Clio Campbell is transformed into a posthumous heroine for politically chaotic times.
Stretching over five decades, taking in the miners’ strikes to Brexit and beyond; hopping between a tiny Scottish island, a Brixton anarchist squat, the bloody Genoa G8 protests, the poll tax riots and Top of the Pops, Scabby Queen is a portrait of a woman who refuses to compromise, told by her friends and lovers, enemies and fans.
As word spreads of what Clio has done, half a century of memories, of pain and of joy are wrenched to the surface. Those who loved her, those who hated her, and those that felt both ways at once, are forced to ask one question: Who was Clio Campbell?
'A fat, firecracker of a book ... It’s about women and silence, oddballs and adventurers and stupid mistakes; about ‘no need to worry about me’ Scottishness and 'getting by’ as practised by every culture on earth. Best of all, it’s about joy and hope and the pressing need to seize the day while one can’ Janice Galloway, author of The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
‘Scabby Queen is a life and death struggle of a book: wounded, angry, beautiful, righteous, beaten and triumphant’ A. L. Kennedy, author of Serious Sweet
'A hugely ambitious novel ... You won't forget Clio Campbell, but Scabby Queen's punch also comes from the sophisticated, nuanced way Innes undermines simplistic biographical takes … Full of heart and dirt, fire and fury, Scabby Queen positively crackles with tension and drama throughout' Rodge Glass, author of Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs
'A blistering firecracker … succeeds in building a singular vision of our political moment and how we got here. I didn't want it to end' Gavin Francis, author of Shapeshifters
'Unsettling and mesmerising, Scabby Queen reveals its complex protagonist in sharp, moving slices. I loved peeling back its layers, never knowing quite what version of Clio Campbell I'd find next … a sparkling tour de force on womanhood, celebrity, Scottishness, the music industry, and fighting injustice in the modern era' Anneliese Mackintosh, author of So Happy It Hurts
‘It is insightful, sharp, beautifully written and so immersive I feel bereft now it is over … An unforgettable book’ Catherine Simpson, author of When I Had a Little Sister
‘Authentic and empathetic, bold and huge of heart …stands in excoriating witness to our times’ Simon Sylvester, author of The Visitors