I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross. My thanks go to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part.
I will begin my review by saying that I have never read anything classed as ‘tartan-noir’ before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I was very intrigued and really wanted to try something a little bit different from my normal read.
Set in Glasgow in the 70s, Welcome to the Heady Heights centres on Archie Blunt, a man on the wrong side of fifty with unrealised dreams of fame and fortune. After saving the life of the ‘King of Showbusiness’, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks, Archie’s life begins to take a path he could never have dreamed of and he seizes every opportunity to make a name for himself. As the manager to five working class teens from Glasgow, who become singing group, The High Five, they dream of making it to the final of Heady’s Saturday night talent show. But the twisted road to fame and riches is never easy, and Archie’s mistakes are fast catching up with him.
I’ll be completely honest and say that I initially struggled to connect with this novel. I’ve never been to Glasgow, and so references to location passed me by, I wasn’t even born in the 70s, so again a lot of information flew over my head, and the dialogue is written as Scottish dialect, which took me a little while to get used to (although once I did, I have to say that I loved it and found it added greatly to the sense of place throughout).
With Nancy Negative out of the way, there is so much that I did enjoy. Firstly, the plot is brilliant. Lots of twists and turns, I never really quite knew where it was going. The characterisation is wonderful, especially ‘Heady’ himself, I could picture him with ease. My absolute favourite aspect, however, was the wickedly, dark humour. Found in the most unexpected of places, it had me laughing out loud on several occasions!
Although set in the 70s, there is so much that is relevant to the here and now, especially concerning revelations in recent years, and I really enjoyed sofa-speculating as to how much truth was hidden amongst the plot. I can’t say more without giving anything away – so, you’ll just have to read it!
There is so much to enjoy packed into this novel. Once I reached the half-way point I read the remainder in one sitting and was wholly entertained. If you’re looking for something dark, funny, tremendously Glaswegian and seeped in 70s pop culture, then I recommend checking out Welcome to the Heady Heights.
It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever…
Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the lightentertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks, and immediately seizes the opportunity to aim for the big time. With dreams of becoming a musical impresario, he creates a new singing group called The High Five with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. The plan? Make it to the final of Heady’s Saturday night talent show, where fame and fortune awaits…
But there’s a complication. Archie’s made a fairly major misstep in his pursuit of fame and fortune, and now a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC are all on his tail…
A hilarious, poignant nod to the elusiveness of stardom, in an age when ‘making it’ was ‘having it all’, Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a poignant tribute to a bygone age and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.
About the Author
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over thirty years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP. Since the publication of his debut novel The Last Days of Disco, he’s become something of a media celebrity in Scotland, with a signed copy of his book going for £500 at auction, and the German edition has not left the bestseller list since it was published.
*I received an ebook of this novel via the blog tour organiser. I chose to take part in the blog tour, and the above is my honest review.