Brian made us the honor to stop by for his retail of Red Riding Hood!
The Edinburgh Dead is the first novel in is new series and let me tell you, it sounds down right awesome! A 1800 setting, paranormal element and a defender of the innocent hero, what else can you ask for?
Little Red Riding Hood would be a slightly different tale if the main character of The Edinburgh Dead, Adam Quire, had been a player in it. Let’s say he’s the woodsman, who in some versions of the old story gets to turn up at the end and dispatch – with an axe, no less – the wolf who has laid such a mean trap for Red.
First of all, who is Red in our new story? Not some wandering innocent child, but – how can I put this politely? – a lady of the night. A working girl. A paid companion to men with impulse control issues. Adam Quire has something of a soft spot for such folk; one in particular, Catherine, who can play Red in our new fable.
He has, in fact, a soft spot for common folk in general, and an acute awareness of the difficulties set in their path by those with wealth and power, so he would be a fine candidate to come to the aid of Red, and avenge the cruelties visited upon her (and upon her poor old grandma, of course).
Now Adam Quire is a policeman, and one with a rare nose for trouble, so he would be on the wolf’s trail early. Suspicions raised by odd-looking pawprints found in the forest, perhaps, or by a howling and a huffling coming from grandma’s cottage at night: sounds no sweet old lady would naturally make. Enough to tweak Quire’s curiosity, and set him on a collision course with our wolfish villain.
And Quire is also an ex-soldier, a survivor of the brutal wars against Napoleon. He’s still carrying the scars – both physical and psychological – of what he saw and did back then, and is reluctant to employ his rather extensive knowledge of violence. But he’s not daft. He knows, or at least suspects, he’s going up against a big bad wolf, so he’s going to come armed. A gleaming French sabre in one hand, a polished flintlock pistol in the other, and a frown of fell intent upon his brow.
So there’s Catherine – Red – sitting by her beloved grandma’s bed, puzzling at the strange changes that seem to have come over the old lady. Now she’s no fool, any more than Quire is, so when she murmurs: ‘And what big teeth you have, grandma,’ it’s not with the innocence of childish wonder, but the scepticism of a woman who’s seen her fair share of the darkness the world has to offer. She knows something foul’s afoot, and is readying herself to do something about it.
But Quire’s on the case, and kicks in the bedroom door at that very moment.
‘Aye, they’re big teeth right enough,’ he growls, ‘and it’s not cake or biscuits your grandma’s meaning to eat with them.’ (He’s Scottish, so it comes in a suitably rolling, roughly warm accent).
The wolf would be up and out of the bed in a flash, of course, knowing trouble when it sees it battering down a door. Petticoats flapping, bonnet tumbling aware from the furry head, those very teeth everyone was talking about a moment ago bared in a vicious snarl.
Quire levels the pistol with all the practised composure of the veteran soldier that he is, and pulls the trigger. A plume of smoke, a flash of flame, and the ball takes the wolf right between the eyes (for Quire is a fine shot). Gruesome as it might be, I fear he will be inclined to cut the wolf’s head from its shoulders with that sabre, too, for he learns in The Edinburgh Dead that there are different kinds of dead, and not all of them are entirely permanent conditions.
Our worldly-wise Red will take all of this in stride. Looking down at the decapitated corpse of the wolf, perhaps giving it a kick in memory of her late, lamented grandma, then nodding knowingly at Quire.
‘Better late than never I suppose, Adam. Shall we see if there’s a wee bit whisky somewhere in the house?’
(Don’t think too badly of Cath for getting over her grandma’s death so easily, for in truth the old woman was frail, and faltering, and more than a little disapproving of Cath’s chosen profession.)
Brian is offering a copy of his book HERE, make sure to visit for your chance to win!
Edinburgh 1827: it’s a city populated by mad alchemists who treat Frankenstein as textbook rather than novel and by a criminal underclass prepared to treat with the darkest of powers. And one officer, from the recently formed Edinburgh City Police, must follow the trail of undead hounds, emptied graves, brutal murders and mob violence into the deepest and darkest corners of Edinburgh’s underworld – both literal and magical – and back again to the highest reaches of elegant, intellectual Edinburgh society.
He was born and brought up in Edinburgh. After studying at Edinburgh and Stirling Universities, and after a good deal of displacement activity (varying from spending three months in the rainforests of Borneo trying to record the dawn chorus of gibbons to briefly working in a tea warehouse / factory), he moved to England to enter the world of full-time employment.
As much by luck as judgement, he had a series of on the whole enjoyable and interesting jobs, mostly based in London. All of them save one have been in the charity sector, and at various times they have involved extensive overseas travel, environmental and community projects, nature conservation and fundraising.
Writing was a big feature of his childhood, and has ebbed and flowed as a spare-time occupation ever since. He sold a couple of short stories in the 1990s, but didn’t really start thinking seriously about writing novels until the 21st Century had got underway.
He is now back in Edinburgh, where he lives with his lovely wife, and misses the excitement of London only a little, and only occasionally.
More books by Brian Ruckley