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The Quaker Reviews

The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

The Quaker

Liam McIlvanney

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 18 Jun 2018
ISBN: 9780008259914

His name fills the streets with fear... In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Liam McIlvanney, a serial killer stalks the streets of Glasgow and DI McCormack follows a trail of secrets to uncover the truth...

1 Prize for The Quaker

The McIlvanney Prize
2018 Winner

The Quaker was, for me, the stand out book from the longlist. It’s one of those novels that as soon as I finished it, I looked forward to reading it again. Not only did I love the evocative recreation of Glasgow but the characters created were refreshing and surprising. It was such a pleasure to read.


5 stars out of 5
Stuart Kelly
17 Jul 2018

"I can’t commend it highly enough. "

he best part of The Quaker is its clever toying with one of the fundamentals of serial crime stories. McCormack is constantly drawn to the idea that with sufficient thinking some kind of pattern of motivations might emerge from the killings. This is not wholly like a novel, such as Michael Dibdin’s The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, where the desire to manufacture meaning becomes a kind of apophenia, the psychological condition where connections are seen where no connections exist. McIlvanney does give us connections between the various narratives, but they are occluded in a clever manner. 

3 stars out of 5
Laura Wilson
15 Jun 2018

"The best recent crime novels – review roundup. "

Set in Glasgow in 1969, Liam McIlvanney’s The Quaker (HarperCollins, £12.99) is loosely based on the murders of the real – and never caught – serial killer “Bible John”, who is believed to have raped and strangled three women after meeting them in the city’s Barrowland Ballroom. DI Duncan McCormack is drafted in from the flying squad to review Glasgow CID’s failing investigation, much to the irritation of the incumbents, who have already attracted scorn from the media for their futile attempts to solve the case by mingling with the punters at the dance hall. A parallel narrative concerning safe-cracker Alex Paton, who travels home from London to take part in an auction house heist, is skilfully dovetailed as the plot thickens and McCormack gets drawn deeper into both cases. Despite some anachronisms, this is an atmospheric portrait of a dreich and seedy place in the throes of slum clearance, as well as a solidly crafted and satisfying detective story.