Review: In the Devil’s Name by Dave Watson

Some of the locals in Ballantrae still tell tales about haunted Bennane Head, the cliffs just up the coast where mythical mass murderer and cannibal Sawney Beane is said to have dwelt with his inbred family during the seventeenth century. Never walk past there at night, they say, or heaven help you. Just a ghost story to give the tourists a thrill.

Phil, Griff, Sam and Cairnsey are local boys who enjoy a smoke, a beer and the occasional tab of mind bending acid, and celebrating the end of high school with some trips and a night’s camping at Bennane Head sounds like a high old time. When their drug fuelled revelry descends into a nightmarish fight for their sanity and survival however, those who make it through the night will know that true evil never forgets unpaid debts.

There are a couple of things that will draw me to a new author, one of these things is setting your book in Scotland. However some of the time this turns ourt to be a bad thing, take a bow Mr Alten.  Thankfully Dave Watson’s book falls into the good camp. 
In the Devil’s Name, despite a slightly shaky start where it almost feels as if the author is trying to find a rhythm for his narrative, turns out to be a really enjoyable gore filled and thrilling read.  Watson has filled this book with all manners of characters, many of which will be instantly recognisable to those of us lucky enough to live in Scotland.  The dialogue, and especially the use of local dialect gives the characters a good deal of depth, they actually sound real.  

Another reason for liking books set in Scotland, is the rich history of spooky legends that this country has.  One of the most famous one is that of the Sawney Beane, our very own cannibal superstar.  Rather than going for a simple rehashing of the story in a contemporary setting Watson has used the legend more as a stepping stone from which to tell his own story, of a town trapped by an ancient curse.  

and once the story really kicks off with a fateful camping trip, the action never lets up, this quickly becomes a fast paced romp, with a huge side salad of blood guts and dismemberment.  I particulary liked The Harvester , this is chilling creation, whose bony extra jointed hands will grip your heart in an icy embrace.  

The book is broken up into sections set in the present in the past, and from the point of view of The Harvester, while this works in terms of the narrative, the choice of fonts used to distinguish these sections did jar somewhat.  However, over all this was a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to the next story from Dave Watson. 


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