Review of “The Cabinetmaker” by Alan Jones

This unusual crime story is based in Partick (an area of Glasgow in Scotland) and is told from the point of view of John McDaid, who at the beginning of the story in 2008, is a retired police detective, and is burning the papers of Francis Hare.


The story then takes us back to 1978 to explain how McDaid got to know Francis, and what led to the events in the Prologue.

John was just starting out as a detective not long after Francis’s only son Patrick had been beaten to death by a gang of thugs. The Detective Inspector at the Partick Police Station had his own gang of thugs handling the investigation, and the eight boys involved in the crime got off because of police misconduct.

In the meantime, John struck up a friendship with Francis. They both played Scottish football and eventually got on the same team. But more importantly, Francis was a cabinetmaker, and from the moment John saw what beautiful pieces Francis made, he fell in love with furniture making. He became something of an apprentice to Francis, and maybe even a second son.

As the years went by, John kept Francis abreast of what happened to the members of the gang who walked free after the murder, as well as the fates of the corrupt detectives who messed up the case. There never seemed to be any closure; the murder continued to define their lives, and affected all of those involved in ways none of them could have anticipated, least of all John.

Discussion: There are many details that seem extraneous, such as blow-by-blow descriptions of some of the football games, and intricacies of woodworking, but they do figure into the plot. I think, however, those portions could have been shaved down a bit, so to speak, to improve the pacing.

The author seems to have a pretty good ear for the speech of bad people, but that means the dialogue is gritty, to say the least.

Evaluation: This is a dark and absorbing detective procedural, and raises some intriguing questions about the nature of justice and even the nature of love. While I can’t say all the twists were entirely surprising, the story is interesting nevertheless. It’s not the usual fare you read.

Rating: 3/5

Published by Ailsa Publishing, 2013



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4 Responses to Review of “The Cabinetmaker” by Alan Jones

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    Parts of that book sound tedious to me. I’ll have to think about it.

  2. Trisha says:

    I adore that cover for some reason…I think it has to do with the lack of cover with that particular shade of green; it’s so unusual I can’t help but love it. I’m not sure about the book itself though.

  3. Rachel says:

    The pronunciation audio files on the website is a great idea. More authors should do that.

  4. Beth F says:

    The title alone means I should read it — or maybe Mr BFR shoul

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