Calling Cards by Gordon Johnston is a gripping crime novel taking place in Glasgow. Three storylines are surprisingly interwoven and uncovered bit by bit through the novel; a campaign against a housing development proposal in Kelvingrove Park, personal and political corruption at the highest level in Glasgow City Council and the increasingly frenzied activities of a Glasgow serial killer. On the hunt for the seemingly unstoppable serial killer, the reader follows the journalist Frank Gallen and the DI Adam Ralston.
Calling Cards is a Tartan Noir novel. But what exactly does that mean? Tartan Noir originates in the Gothic horror story history of Scotland, and the upcoming crime fiction which fit in with a new, realistic school of writing that became popular in Glasgow in the 1970s. John Buchan’s spy thrillers, Alistair McLean’s crime novels and Josephine Tey’s detective fictions were the pioneer novels of Tartan Noir. Their obvious differences lead us to the sub genres of Tartan Noir: the genre can be subdivided into detective, police, serial killer and noir fiction. Detective, police and serial killer fiction are focused on their name giving participants in the criminal hunt. In noir fiction, the cruelness is expanded from the criminal to a generally twisted world, and the protagonist is caught in a continuous mist of disorientation and misery. All those sub-genres are not definite but fluent, and that makes Tartan Noir a very diverse, but also hard to define, genre of Scottish literature. Tartan Noir has the possibly largest international reputation of any type of Scottish literature. Although the “Tartan” part of the term implies a nationalistic oriented writing, Tartan Noir includes a lot of multicultural currents, and Tartan Noirists rather tend to complicate definition by nationality.
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