Early in the decade that taste forgot, Fat Franny Duncan is on top of the world. He is the undoubted King of the Ayrshire Mobile Disco scene, controlling and ruling the competition with an iron fist. From birthdays to barn dances, Franny is the man to call. He has even played ‘My Boy Lollipop’ at a funeral and got away with it. But the future is uncertain. A new partnership is coming and is threatening to destroy the big man’s Empire … Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller have been best mates since primary school. Joey is an idealist; Bobby just wants to get laid and avoid following his brother Gary to the Falklands. A partnership in their
new mobile disco venture seems like the best way for Bobby to do both at the same time. With
compensation from an accident at work, Bobby’s dad Harry invests in the fledgling business. His marriage to Ethel is coming apart at the seams and the disco has given him something to focus on. Tragic news from the other side of the world brings all three strands together in a way that no one could have predicted. The Last Days of Disco is a eulogy to the beauty and power of the 45rpm vinyl record and the small but significant part it played in a small town Ayrshire community in 1982. Witty, energetic and entirely authentic, it’s also heartbreakingly honest, weaving tragedy together with comedy with uncanny and unsettling elegance. A simply stunning debut.
Ah, the eighties. Brings back happy memories of my youth and David Ross captures the mood and spirit of the time impeccably, with a wonderful cast of characters and a fabulous soundtrack.
It’s a funny book. And a sad one. Against the fun and hijinks of Bobby and Joey setting up their ‘Heatwave’ mobile disco (and they have a *lot* of each!), there’s Bobby’s brother Gary and his adventures in joining the army – and given the timeframe there’s really only one way that could be headed. The threat of the Falklands conflict looms large over the story, with quotes dropped in from Thatcher as the story progresses – it’s a deft touch and builds a real sense of tension.
We also meet the fabulous Fat Franny Duncan, a local small-time gangster boss and as king of the mobile disco scene, the main opposition to the boys’ mobile disco success. Definitely one of my favourite characters in the book!
Ross has a remarkable talent for evoking a real sense of place in his writing. You feel that you know these people, this town as you get further into the book.
I did feel there are definite echoes of the late, great, much missed Iain Banks here – there are plenty of comparisons to be drawn, with a sprawling Scottish small-town cast, delicately intertwined plotlines, social commentary and a deft turn of often quite black humour.
It’s a remarkable debut from an author who I’ve added to my list of writers to watch in the future. He’s set the bar pretty high though, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
Follow the tour! Next up grabthisbook.net
And if you missed yesterday’s stop, head over to The Book Trail It’s well worth a visit as we get to see some of the locations in the book itself courtesy of the author.
Disclosure: Thanks to Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book to review and to Liz for organising it. The opinions in the review are entirely mine.