A deadly fire
An arson attack on a Glasgow warehouse causes the deaths of a young mother and child.
Police suspect it’s the latest act in a brutal gang warfare that’s tearing the city apart – one that DI Duncan McCormack has been tasked with stopping.
A brutal murder
Five years ago he was walking on water as the cop who tracked down a notorious serial killer. But he made powerful enemies and when a mutilated body is found in a Tradeston slum,
McCormack is assigned a case that no one wants. The dead man is wearing a masonic ring, though, and Duncan realizes the victim is not the down-and-out his boss had first assumed.
A catastrophic explosion
As McCormack looks into both crimes, the investigations are disrupted by a shocking event.
A bomb rips through a pub packed with people – and a cop is killed in the blast. The cases are stacking up and with one of his own unit now dead, McCormack is in the firing line.
But he’s starting to see a thread – one that connects all three attacks…
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Average rating from 121 members
This is the second in a series of books, set in the late 60s & early 70s in Glasgow. Having been lucky enough to read & love the first one, I was very happy & eager to read this one.
Characters & events echo from the first book, but the story is new. From the first scene, this book grabs you by the throat and never loosens it's grip. It is incredibly atmospheric & written so well throughout. Although there are a number of historic crime fiction set in southern Scotland currently, this stands proudly amongst them all.
Visceral, dark, but stark in it's portrayal of the grim reality of every day life for the people of Glasgow in the 70s. The plot is incredibly strong and enjoyable, I found it physically impossible to put down. Outstanding & doesn't disappoint in any way.
Thanks to Liam and Netgalley for allowing me to read The Heretic before publication date.
After 6 years working in the Met, DI Duncan McCormack is back in the City of Glasgow Serious Crime Squad. He has a lot of enemies, having previously convicted the popular but corrupt DCI Peter Levein, who later committed suicide whilst in prison.
Now he reports to DCI Haddow, who, like many senior officers at the time, was positioning himself for a promotion in the upcoming amalgamation (take over) of 8 forces to create the new Strathclyde Police with Glasgow Police as the HQ.
McCormack and his team are investigating Walter Maitland, the head of one of the Glasgow crime families, but Maitland always seems to be one step ahead.
An unidentified body is found on wasteland and Haddow tells McCormack to take the investigation and drop the Maitland investigation. It is established that the victim has been tortured.
When the body is identified as Sir Gavin Elliot, a former Tory MP and Glasgow Councillor, the investigation takes on a totally different light, exposing connections and corruption which many will want to keep hidden.
This book captures the atmosphere of Glasgow in the 1970s and the tensions as the Marching Season approaches, tensions which even today are present when there is an old firm match.
I enjoyed the detail which is applied to the various locations and had to think how the city was at that time.
The use of words like cowp and set-in bed is great.
This story incudes the gritty darker aspects of Glasgow from the perspective of the good and the bad, the wealthy and the poor. I particularly liked the unsent letters which give the reader an insight into the life of the writer.
When is the next in the series?
After the Quacker comes the Heretic, I loved them both the Thrillers not the villans. Duncan McCormack having put away the Quaker and his boss Peter Levein who had a strong following plus you don't grass on your own. So back after a 6 year stint in the Met now back in Glasgow his home town he is landed with the body of a homeless guy only hes not and things get a whole lot deeper as the days tick by.
This is a excellent follow on from the Quacker it can be read as a standalone but they are both so good my advice is read them both. He has Goldie when him, Liz Nicole and Iain Shand. One is a challenge, Goldie was in the Quacker team, and still suffers from being associated with McCormack each team at the time had a female after the female team was disbanded they were spread throughout the force.
I' think that this is balanced incredibly well setting the culture of the year 1975 with the culture of today, eg a female police officer was often given token roles even though the were a good sometimes better and there is a same sex relationship which could finish someone in the force back then if found out. In a show the role of the female would not be as such a strong and great Cop as Nicol was. An eg would be Bond 007 through the years. But Liam is a great writer and handles it really well.
The police and folks (public) plus gangsters are well crafted and there is no complaint they are so believable there are plenty of suspenseful moments a thriller to get your teeth into and loved it from the start to the end. I loved it how you do to.
Excellent second episode of what hopefully will be a long series.Still set in 60s/70s Glasgow the story of vengeance in the dark underworld with the police investigation led by characters familiar from the first story. Beautifully atmospheric the pace of this complex tale never lets up right to its stunning conclusion. Excellent bring on the next one!
With the name McIlvanney, there is a lot to live to with both William and Hugh both being excellent writers in their own fields and Liam certainly maintains the family tradition.
A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish and an author whose books will certainly be ones to read as they hit the shelves.
The ‘Heretic’ is a very strong addition to the Glasgow crime genre. Driven by a strong plot and excellent characterization, this a well written, enjoyable novel.
I felt it helped the narrative having read the authors previous novel ‘the preacher’ as it is referenced throughout the story, however this is a standalone novel, so don’t be put off by not having read this in sequence.
A highly recommended, very entertaining read
This is a stunning follow-up to The Quaker. McCormack is on the trail of a gangland boss but is derailed by a murder enquiry. There are several sub-plots going here and some fantastic character development. McIlvanney keeps the action going but still has time for the thoughtful parts, including McCormack’s private life, that bring characters alive. No 2D characters here. It’s impressively done, thought-provoking and compelling. I very much look forward to more.
I would like to thank Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for an advance copy of The Heretic, the second novel to feature DI Duncan McCormack of Strathclyde Police, set in 1975.
Six years after catching a serial killer known as The Quaker and a stint in the Met’s Flying Squad, Duncan is back in Glasgow, much to the disgust of his boss, DCI Haddow. He is trying to catch a local gangster, Haddow wants him to investigate the murder of an apparent vagrant, who is wearing an expensive Masonic ring, but before he and his team really get going one of their team is killed in a bomb blast. Duncan is the only one seeing a connection between these cases and an earlier arson.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Heretic, which is a long, complicated novel with an amazingly descriptive and atmospheric setting. When I started reading I didn’t find it particularly gripping as it switched points of view and seemed quite choppy, so I was thinking 3* and it’s a long way to the end. That quickly changed once I got the basics and it quickly became compulsive reading.
It is quite difficult to review the novel because the plot has so many strands and a largish cast of characters. I never felt confused or had any trouble identifying who was who, which is a mark of the author’s skill in making it all clear in what is essentially a soup of competing agendas, assumptions and rivalries. It is very well done. I think the length of the novel gives him time to fully explore the characters and their motivations and the web of interconnections between them. I would note that there are multiple references to and spoilers for The Quaker, the preceding novel, so I would recommend reading it first.
The time and the setting are integral to the novel, Glasgow in the mid seventies. I don’t think I have seen it more authentically portrayed and I loved it. There is nothing like a bit of nostalgia for familiar places to warm the heart. It’s as I remember it, although I was disappointed that no one drank ba bru, my favourite tipple, for the ultimate in reality.
The characters are realistic and the author takes the time to develop them. Duncan McCormack is gay at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Scotland. This presents its own problems and is sympathetically portrayed in the novel. This is not, however, the root cause of his problems at work, which are caused by his exposure of a colleague as corrupt. The politics of that are fascinating.
The Heretic is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
Maybe it's the Glasgow girl in me or maybe this book is truly an incredible piece is Scottish Crime fiction? I absolutely loved it. I do think having a background knowledge of Glasgow really serves the reader. I used to live on Novar Drive and was delighted to hear to called out in chapter one. Even without the geographical knowledge of the city, any reader who knows even a tiny bit of Glasgow's violent history will want to sink their teeth into this novel.
The plot is engaging. The character have real depth. You're pulled into the underworld of gangs, violence, abuse, exploitation and fear. I had no idea it was a sequel when I requested the book on Netgalley. I can't wait to go back and read the first one. You can easily pick up on what's happening without having read the first one though.