Liam McIlvanney

Add to shortlist
Liam McIlvanney

Photograph: Michael McQueen



Liam McIlvanney is Stuart Professor of Scottish Studies at the University of Otago, NZ. His first book, BURNS THE RADICAL, won the Saltire First Book Award in 2002. He is a contributor to the London Review of Books. His second novel, WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO, was published by Faber in September 2013 and won the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.


His next book, THE QUAKER, will be published by HarperFiction in May 2018.


Praise for Liam McIlvanney

"An authentic, atmospheric and ambitious debut."

Val McDermid


"McIlvanney is deft at weaving the language of politics, both of the hearth and of ethical reportage, and the jargon of journalism into a thriller that is bolted together by both ... The book’s real heft lies in delivering a gripping, unflinching meditation upon the suspicions that still twitch in the Northern Irish  air like the proverbial net curtain. McIlvanney has flair and assurance and executes a powerful tale with all the dexterous sensitivity and ballsy swagger the subject is due."

Scotland on Sunday


"All the Colours of the Town is a distinctive and striking debut. One quality that makes the novel stand out is Liam McIlvanney’s portrait of the deep-rooted tribal tensions in Glasgow and Belfast."

Times Literary Supplement


"There’s nothing like a thriller done really well and All the Colours of the Town is a perfect example of why talented writers ought not to shy away from tackling genre novels. Noir doesn’t need to be pap; this is a smart and engrossing crime novel."



"This is a bold, impressive debut. Its best writing turns the conventions of noir fiction on the politics of devolution to find individuals compromised and nations wanting."

Daily Telegraph


“McIlvanney evokes the city’s dark underbelly with razor-like accuracy, and the novel roars off the page like a wild beast on the loose... Superb storytelling, a wonderful eye for character, and a passion for dialogue; it announces the arrival of a Scots poet of the thriller.”

Daily Mail


"The gritty, mean streets of Glasgow are a very familiar stomping ground for fans of modern British crime fiction, so it takes something a bit special to stand out from the pack. Where the Dead Men Go is a terrific, ultra-modern crime novel ... Delivered in lyrical, emotive and often piercing prose, it’s an assured and classy addition to the ranks of Scotland’s crime-writing scene."

Independent on Sunday


"Is there no end to the procession of Scottish writers excelling at the crime genre? In his second novel, Where the Dead Men Go, Liam McIlvanney shows himself to be in the same league as his illustrious compatriots. He does so without gimmicks or frills ... McIlvanney tells the story with clarity, terrific dialogue and convincing characters."

The Times


"Distinctive, vivid and very well written, Where the Dead Men Go more than lives up to the promise of its excellent predecessor."




Publication DetailsNotes




Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: The Quaker. He’s taken his next victim – the third woman from the same nightclub – and dumped her in the street like rubbish.

The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. After six months, DI McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation – with a view to shutting it down for good.

But his arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider … for McCormack is an outcast in more ways than one.

When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city – and his life – forever…



After three years in the wilderness, hardboiled reporter Gerry Conway is back at his desk at the Glasgow Tribune. But three years is a long time on newspapers and things have changed - readers are dwindling, budgets are tightening, and the Trib's once rigorous standards are slipping. Once the paper's star reporter, Conway now plays second fiddle to his former protégé, crime reporter Martin Moir.

But when Moir goes AWOL as a big story breaks, Conway is dispatched to cover a gangland shooting. And when Moir's body turns up in a flooded quarry, Conway is drawn deeper into the city's criminal underworld as he looks for the truth about his colleague's death. Braving the hostility of gangsters, ambitious politicians and his own newspaper bosses, Conway discovers he still has what it takes to break a big story. But this is a story not everyone wants to hear as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the country gears up for a make-or-break referendum on independence.

In this, the second book in the Conway Trilogy, McIlvanney explores the murky interface of crime and politics in the new Scotland.



When Glasgow journalist Gerry Conway receives a phone call promising unsavoury information about Scottish Justice Minister Peter Lyons, his instinct is that this apparent scoop won't warrant space in The Tribune. But as Conway's curiosity grows and his leads proliferate, his investigation takes him from Scotland to Belfast. Shocked by the sectarian violence of the past, and by the prejudice and hatred he encounters even now, Conway soon grows obsessed with the story of Lyons and all he represents. And as he digs deeper, he comes to understand that there is indeed a story to be uncovered; and that there are people who will go to great lengths to ensure that it remains hidden.

Compelling, vividly written and shocking, ALL THE COLOURS OF THE TOWN is not only the story of an individual and his community - it is also a complex and thrilling inquiry into loyalty, betrayal and duty.