The Stillman is a novel packed with dark humour

The Stillman is Tom McCulloch’s first novel and the characterisation of protagonist Jim Drever surely draws on the author’s upbringing in the Highlands.

We’re in 2010, the worst winter in years, and Jim, stillman at a Highland distillery, has just turned 50.

His obsessions are his comfortingly predictable job, and the movies, full of fictional characters much easier to deal with than the real people he has to confront, especially his family.

But life is about to get a whole lot more complicated. A strike is looming, his wife is focused entirely on their daughter’s wedding, his teenage son’s behaviour is becoming very weird indeed.

Then the emails from Cuba start coming in, each with an excerpt from his dead mother’s journal.

For years, Jim has buried his grief at being abandoned by a mother who left him when he was four years old, to pursue her own dreams.

The lead man’s lack of emotional attachment to anything other than his work make the onset of his emotional rollercoaster all the more fascinating to read.

A great wee tale with plenty of black humour thrown in for good measure.

The Stillman, by Tom McCulloch, published by Sandstone Press, £8.99.

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