September’s best new crime fiction: Ian Rankin finishes off a William McIlvanney manuscript

Plus new releases from Vera Kurian, John Hart, Alan Johnson and Celia Walden

The late Scottish writer William McIlvanney. His half-finished manuscript has been completed by Ian Rankin and published as The Dark Remains. Photograph: Drew Farrell/Photoshot/Getty Images

The late Scottish writer William McIlvanney. His half-finished manuscript has been completed by Ian Rankin and published as The Dark Remains. Photograph: Drew Farrell/Photoshot/Getty Images

He might have despaired when his books fell out of print in the 1990s, but by then William McIlvanney’s legacy was already assured. Published in the 1970s and 1980s, his Glasgow-set Laidlaw Trilogy was read by such contemporary crime fiction luminaries as Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin. And when McIlvanney died in 2015, he left behind a half-finished manuscript, which has been completed by Rankin and titled The Dark Remains (Canongate, £19.99). 

Set in Glasgow in the early 1970s, the story begins with the discovery of the body of a lawyer who provided legal counsel to the gangster Cam Colvin. An old head on young shoulders, Det Jack Laidlaw is part of the investigating team that needs to get a result before tit-for-tat murders spiral out of control into a gangland war on Glasgow’s mean streets. 

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