The Steep Approach to Garbadale, by Iain Banks (Books 2007, 4)

It’s not The Crow Road, but then, what is?

In my opinion, the quality of Banksie’s non-SF work rose in shallow, slightly wiggly, climb from a high start, to a “can do no wrong” plateau that includes The Bridge, Espedair Street and Complicity, as well as the aforementioned. Thereafter it dropped a bit (but who can blame him, after that lot?) But it never got bad. (His SF took a different trajectory, and as far as I can tell, it’s still climbing.)

So what of this book? It’s a family drama, I suppose you’d say, with a mystery at its heart. Not a “whodunit”, so much as “what got done?”

Slipping into Banksie’s world is like pulling on an old, comfy jumper; or maybe a favourite leather jacket would be more appropriate. So we get recognisable characters, dialogue that you could hear in any pub or home in Scotland, and just a touch of mystery.

The main problem, perhaps, is that there’s no great threat over the characters (they might decide to sell the family games business to a big American company, and some of them are against that happening). So we don’t have any real sense of potential doom. Still, though, finding the answer to the mystery is fun enough, and it’s a compelling enough read that I got through it in a couple of days.

In a book like this, the pleasure is in the journey more than the destination.

The Steep Approach to Garbadale, by Iain Banks (Books 2007, 4)