To The Dogs
by Louise Welsh
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Pub Date 18 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 18 Jan 2024
A darkly comic, gritty novel from the award-winning writer of The Cutting Room, exploring organised crime, institutional corruption and moral compromise in Glasgow
Jim Brennan is flying high. Against all odds, he is a big man at the university, tipped for the head job and an office at the top of the ivory tower. He has a beautiful, accomplished wife and two healthy children. Jim drives an Audi, and his dog is a pedigree bichon frisé. Not bad for the son of a hardman who grew up in a room and kitchen.
But for every person who’s watched his progress and wanted to hitch a lift, there’s someone else desperate to drag him back down. When his son Elliot is arrested on drugs charges, Jim is approached by men he thought he had left safely in his past. Their demands threaten his family, students and reputation.
As the pressure mounts, Jim discovers he is more like his father than he thought. The question is, how far will Professor Jim Brennan go to save the life he built?
Praise for Louise Welsh:
‘Welsh tells the stories that nobody else dares’
‘The specificity and style of Welsh’s prose – peppered with such fine Scottish words as 'bawface', 'coorie' and 'shoogly' — the depth of her characterisation and depiction of place, her gallows humour and her compassion all make The Second Cut a superb piece of work’
‘Welsh reclaims her crown as the queen of Glasgow’s grubby glamour’
‘[Welsh's] skill with plot, character, dialogue and atmosphere fuses the disparate elements into a wholly convincing depiction of a city where glamour and danger, hope and despair, beauty and horror, are frequent partners’
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 88 members
This was a gritty, realistic thriller which ranged from the rarified world of academia to the grimy and crime ridden back streets of Glasgow.
Jim Brennan thought he had put his family background behind him but his past catches up with him and when his life suddenly takes a turn for the worst, he is forced to revert to behaviour more associated with his ex-con father rather than the University Don he is.
Exciting and. With well developed characters this is a thriller that thrills and is beautifully written as well.
Professor Jim Brennan is called away from a graduation ceremony at the Beijing institute associated with his university in Glasgow when his son is arrested on a drugs charge. He catches the first plane home, heading straight for the police station before calling in at the Fusilier, his gangster father’s old haunt, where he bumps into Eddie, an old schoolmate, now a solicitor. By the time Jim wakes up with an appalling hangover, his wife has engaged Eddie to represent Eliot. Before long, he finds himself dragged back into the world he’d assumed he’d long since left behind while navigating the ethical grey area of university funding. One world might look down on the other, but neither is squeaky clean.
Welsh’s cleverly plotted novel neatly contrasts straightforward crime with the dubious morality of accepting funding from repressive regimes. Jim is a pleasingly complex character, a good man determined to put the safety of his family before everything else, slipping back into the world he’d turned his back on while finding ways to justify donations from sources others find repugnant in the name of advancing education. I raced through this pacy slice of campus crime. Highly recommended, even if you’re not a crime reader.
An unusual thriller, multi-layered and really well told.
A successful academic is confronted by old family connections. His father was not a nice man and used to spend time in prison, now his son has also been arrested.
As he tries to keep his family and his job and reputation safe, things become more and more interconnected. Is someone pulling the strings? And why?
Great Glasgow atmosphere, and an insight into the not so rarefied world of Academia.
Professor Jim Brennan is a high-flying academic ,on course to be promoted to the top job at the University he works at. Brennan has done well in life with his lovely home, equally successful wife and 2 children. Life would be good but for the behaviour of son Elliot ,in trouble since his teenage years ,now arrested on drug charges.
With an ill-equipped Elliot looking at a long prison sentence and in debt to some very nasty people Jim is approached by people he thought he'd never see again who threaten everything he's got.
Jim is the son of "Big Jim" Brennan, long dead ,notorious gangland heavy who bullied and ridiculed his scholarly son at every opportunity. Years later Brennan thinks his background and roots are well behind him............he's wrong.
As you'd expect from Louise Welsh this is an excellent read with Brennan desperately trying to do the right thing and avoid sorting things the way his late Father would have, not making things any easier for himself by being a rather stubborn and it has to be said,not particularly likeable, character. With everything at risk Brennan's inner turmoil is palpable as he finds himself being dragged into the web of the past he's worked so hard to put behind him.
This is top class writing,a great story,believable characters and an author at the top of their game.
Gritty thriller meets dark academia with threads of crime and horror. I'd never read any Louise Welsh before but I'm going to have to hunt her books out now. This was completely gripping from beginning to end.
A fabulously written gripping story that was a pleasure to read. I would absolutely recommend this book, it was brilliant
Louise Welsh is one of my favourite writers. I don't know why she isn't world famous. In fact her work is so powerful that I had to stop reading her Plague Times trilogy because it was giving me panic attacks. The worlds she creates are almost too convincing.
It's been a pleasure to return to Glasgow in To The Dogs. Through Jim Brennan Welsh explores class, ambition, family and masculinity. Campus novels can sometimes disappear up their own a***holes but the rawness and self-awareness under JB's veneer of academia means that's never a danger here. Absolute perfection on every page.
I first encountered Louise Welsh 20-odd years ago when I read The Cutting Room and I caught up with her again with The Second Cut, both of which are excellent.
To the Dogs is in a slightly different vein but just as captivating. I was hooked throughout, could barely put it down to sleep, and surprised by the ending - there was an easy way out of Brennen's troubles presenting itself but she didn't take it.
To the Dogs has humour and a touch of brutality and seediness - though maybe not as much as the 'Cut' books. The characters are excellently done, from Brennen himself, to his wife, daughter, lawyer and waste-of-space son.
If you enjoy intelligent crime get this book read.
Very tense, gritty, dark and disturbing, this tale of corruption, violence and family ties is absolutely gripping. Jim will do anything to protect his family but has his own demons and a very respectable career as a university vice chancellor to keep. Characters are excellent, plot is well crafted, excellent read.
A great read by Welsh. Professor Jim Brennan’s life is turned upside down when his son is imprisoned for dodgy drug healing.
Suddenly this respectable academic is thrust back into the grubby underworld his violent father inhabited and is fighting to save his family.
I really believed in Jim, his wife and two children. The novel is well-plotted: although there’s a lot going on and I sometimes literally lost the plot, the characterisation was good enough to keep me hooked.
I haven’t read Welsh’s other novels, but definitely will on the basis of this one.
Recommended if you like your thrillers gritty and gripping.
A look into an ordinary family whose lives are turned upside down when their son does something wrong. A book that makes you think "it could easily happen to my family". The twists and turns keep coming from every direction.
I thoroughly enjoyed Louise Welsh's 'To the Dogs'. For an intelligent man Jim Brennan seems to lurch from disaster to disaster just rescuing himself or being rescued from the brink in the nick of time. The situations he finds himself in become more serious, complex and ridiculous until the final twist. An excellent read which I'm pleased to recommend.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
As is to be expected from Welsh this is a complex and readable story confronting societal issues as much as those the characters are facing. The main character has his problems, stemming from his background and from his own actions. It is a journey we share as the plot twists and turns.
A change for Welsh but Glasgow is under the microscope again with the added setting of a higher education establishment.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.