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It’s been a while.

Been a while since I’ve read a book that just shook in my hands. You know, with a life all its own, the characters jumping off the page before you, the story engrossing you, the emotional well-being of the protagonist producing a big lump in you514cejg6p1l__sl500_aa240_1r throat.

Not sure why it’s been a while. I have my suspicions. But what I do know is that it’s a tricky —  damn tricky — business, making a novel work at that level.  Making it work so that when the world caves in on a character like Gus Dury, you feel like you’ve been socked in the gut.

Well, last week I was socked in the gut. You could say I was Gutted.

I was lucky to get ahold of an advance copy of Gutted, the forthcoming novel by Scottish maestro Tony Black. Gutted exposes us once again to the world of  Dury, a journalist turned down-and-out  alcoholic and dive-bar proprietor. We first met Dury in Black’s breakout debut, Paying for It. In Gutted, we go a little deeper into Dury’s past, and we come along as the utterly flawed, supremely loveable Dury struggles to solve a gruesome murder that, if it goes unsolved, just might destroy what is left of his own life.

What gets me is Black’s ability to write stories that are so visceral and brutal in their physicality, and yet so thoughtful and touching in their emotional weight. Damn, damn impressive, Mr, Black.