Barney Thomson – the barber a cut above the rest

Scots-born author Douglas Lindsay had written seven novels about Barney Thomson before Hollywood took note and propelled his character onto the big screen in a major motion picture starring Emma Thompson, Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone.

The Legend of Barney Thomson tells the story of a socially inept barber whose life, through a series of shocking events, goes from one of monotony and mediocrity to one of uncontrollable drama in the blink of an eye.

The action is set in a bleak area of Glasgow, where the book’s protagonist Barney Thomson leads an unfulfilling life.

A barber with the chair furthest away from the window, Barney is shunned at work and at home and unable to break out of a twenty-year rut of resentfully cutting hair. Each day blends seamlessly into the next with Barney achieving very little except a bad reputation for his terrible haircuts and his equally terrible conversational skills.

But Barney’s safe, boring life is about to explode thanks to an inadvertent murder, a deranged psychopath and a freezer full of neatly packaged meat. With his life shooting from 0 to 60 in a few seconds flat, Barney finds himself in a bit of a tight squeeze.

With things spiralling out of control, he turns to his mother for help which provides some of the great moments of humour in the book. Fierce, domineering and slightly senile, she provides a large chunk of the comedy throughout. This novel is both incredibly dark yet laugh-out-loud funny – one minute you’ll have chills up your spine and the next you’ll be doubled over with laughter – the perfect balance in any black comedy.

With a murderous psychopath with a chilling and sinister method of torture on the loose in Glasgow, the case has the police stumped, but with few leads a detective on the case seems to be keeping a suspicious eye on Barney. Lindsay jumps straight into the plot with a speed that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end.

Of course, the premise behind the story is rather ludicrous – but then that’s all part of the fun. If you are looking for a murder mystery that doesn’t shy away from the grisly details, with twists and turns to keep you on your toes and laugh-out-loud comic moments, then this book is definitely worth a read.

Full of black humour, macabre and chilling thoughts, The Legend of Barney Thomson is a brilliantly written page turner that leaves the reader unable to guess what’s coming next, creating an intense feeling of suspense that is the mark of any good crime fiction novel.

The Legend of Barney Thomson, by Douglas Lindsay, published by Freight Books, £8.99.

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