23rd April 2017
Gallows Drop by Mari Hannah, crime thriller set in Northumberland (“a real hanging suspense”) ...
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas by David F Ross, novel set in Ayrshire.
(The music in the background of the video was specially created for the book)
The Rise and Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas is a ride down memory lane – back to the pop scene of the early 1980s. It is funny, witty, and extremely well written. An Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, blags its way onto the Glasgow music scene – and even all the way to an appearance on Top Of The Pops before finally imploding. The band are all social misfits – from manager Max Mojo (formerly known as Dale Wishart, the son of a local Ayrshire villain…), through lead singer Grant Delgado (formerly known as Grant Dale…) to Maggie Abernathy, the drummer, and the Sylvester Brothers – Eddie, the Motorcycle Boy and guitarist, and Simon, the bass guitarist. Maggie and Grant are in item. Their producer, Clifford ‘X-Ray’ Raymonde is very definitely larger than life… An ideal cast for an engaging book.
On top of that you have a parallel / sub plot of the rivalry between the the three Ayrshire gangs – The Wisharts (as in Dale’s father), the Quinns, and Fat Franny Duncan’s North West Kilmarnock Crew. Not exactly top flight criminal masterminds (selling low grade drugs out of the back of an ice cream van is a typical activity…), but many a nicely drawn character.
The story takes us from the initial coming together and rehearsing of the band, through their meeting with record producer ‘X-Ray’ (and their subsequent first demo recording whilst high on cocaine…), to the stalking of a Radio Clyde disc jockey, a trip to London for a international football match for Max and Grant – after which they meet Boy George in a gay club – to a serious recording contract, and the Top Of The Pops appearance… before it all goes seriously pear-shaped. It’s quite a romp.
The Rise of the Miraculous Vespas takes one back to the not too distant past, and it works really well. All sorts of old technology – from vinyl discs to cassettes to tape recorders – feature. It was a simpler pre social media time! It really is a book of the 80s… And there is a nice final touch. After the story ends, there is a ‘where are they now’? couple of pages that records how life develops for the main protagonists between the 80s and the present day. It almost makes you thing the book is a true record of events (and I even Googled The Miraculous Vespas to make sure it wasn’t!)
My only ‘complaint’ – and it’s not really as serious one – is that I found the phonetic rendering of the Ayrshire accent in the written word at times both confusing and distracting. But all in all The Rise and Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas is an easy and enjoyable read. Especially for those of us of a certain age…
Tony for the TripFiction Team
You can catch up with David via his website
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