Delighted to be closing off the #BloodyScotland blog tour with my review of The Devil’s Playground by Craig Russell and some details about his appearance at Bloody Scotland this weekend. I’ll be there, so if you see me… say hello!
£12 / £11 concession
One McIlvanney, two McIlvanney Prize winners, three McIlvanney Prizes between them. Two of Scotland’s – and crime fiction’s – finest talents join forces for an hour to discuss their approach to their work. Craig Russell’s dark, gritty plots and complex characters have gained an army of fans. He continues to push the boundaries of the genre and his latest, the masterful, Hollywood-set The Devil’s Playground is no exception. Liam McIlvanney has an enviable ability to create a sense of place and atmosphere through brooding and deeply evocative prose. His talents are on full show in The Heretic, the stunning follow-up to his award-winning novel The Quaker.
Browse the brochure HERE
Summary of the blurb 👉🏻 In “The Devil’s Playground,” the allure of 1920s Hollywood is tainted by whispers of a deadly curse surrounding a lost film. Hollywood fixer Mary Rourke is sucked into a sinister labyrinth when she finds starlet Norma Carlton dead. Was it the curse of the infamous film they said would never see the light of day? Fast-forward to 1967. Obsessive film historian Paul Conway is hot on the trail, desperate to find a lone surviving copy of the film. His quest takes him to an untouched hotel in the Mojave, where time seems frozen and dark secrets linger. Spanning decades, both Rourke and Conway find that the haunting menace—the real Devil’s Playground, is Hollywood itself. A chilling, layered thriller that delves into the seedy underbelly of glamour and obsession.
Oh. My. Gosh. You guys, you NEED to grab a copy of Craig Russell’s “The Devil’s Playground,” like, YESTERDAY! I am buzzing, people—BUZZING!
This initially reads more like a mystery than thriller with a slow build up of tension and suspense. The author has an exceptional way with words that draws readers in and keeps them engaged. Interestingly, I think I crossed various genres – cosy crime, a dash of horror, a sprinkle of thriller and a whole lot of mystery. It’s a very filmic read and I loved the multiple historic timelines.
Multiple POV’s gave me insight into the character’s and dropped hints that I’m not ashamed to admit, I saw only after the revelation(s) though I was right on a few things… hurrah! Obsession, exploitation, curses, revenge—a smorgasbord of everything dark and sinister that will have you peering over your shoulder. It starts off slow, and for a minute, you might wonder where all this is going. But OH-MY-DAYS, do not be deceived! Russell is a puppet master of tension and suspense. He lays down the track, places you in the rollercoaster, and then—you better hold on because you’re about to be catapulted into an ending that will have you gasping for air. BOOM! Just when you think it can’t get any better, the last part swoops in, ties up the loose ends and leaves you gobsmacked.
Setting wise…Old Hollywood, the City of Angels or should I say, the city of secrets, obsessions, and some seriously eerie happenings—is PERFECT. The glitz and glamour act as mere facades to the dark and dingy corners of human ambition and the thirst for fame. Gah! Genius!
I usually get a bit twitchy when an author tries to weave multiple threads, but Russell nails it. It’s complex but intriguing, with a touch of OMFG! Moments that kept me on my toes. Oh, you think you’ve got it figured out? Think again!
If you follow my reviews, you know I’m a character gal and this book delivers! Multi-dimensional, flawed, real. Even the minor characters felt like they could walk off the page and sit down next to you—hopefully not, considering some of them. You’ll be engaged, enraged, and entangled in their lives, which seem to spiral in circles of doom but always searching for the elusive truth.
Do I recommend this book? Is the Pope Catholic? READ. 👏🏻 THIS. 👏🏻 BOOK. 👏🏻 In fact, you won’t just read this book; you’ll consume it. You’ll live it. And you’ll come out the other side, dazed and amazed, wondering what in the holy heck just happened.
Twisty, addictive and captivating. It took me a little while to appreciate the genius, but I wasn’t worried because the author is a master at writing books that get under your skin.
Honestly, people, what are you waiting for? Go, go, GO get this book!