A bildungsroman, a demented comedy, a wild romantic fling - The Deadman's Pedal is another thrillingly imagined adventure from the inimitable Alan Warner.
It is the early 1970s in the Highlands of Scotland and for sixteen-year-old Simon Crimmons there's really not much to do. He can hang around with his pal Andy, or his first-ever girlfriend, Nikki, he can dream about a first motorbike to get him out of the Port and give him some freedom, but in truth he's going nowhere.
The only local drama and romance is the West Highland Line, and Simon joins up as a train driver. But that summer he is introduced to a world far more glamorous and strange than anything the railways can provide. He meets the louche, bohemian Alex, and his dark, gorgeous sister, Varie: all that remains of 'the doomed family' of the great house at Broken Moan, where their father, Andrew Bultitude, is Commander of the Pass. Legend has it that they practise magic, drink barrels of brandy and eat salad, that the house sits on a giant badger warren and the ancestral dead lay stretched in glass graves. When Simon falls in love with the otherworldly Varie he is suddenly given a freedom and mobility that is both thrilling and vertiginous.
With The Deadman's Pedal, Alan Warner returns to the landscape of Morvern Callar and his early novels: a world where the real and the surreal, grim trade unionists and the crazed aristocracy, live under the shadows of the same great mountains, along the same railway line. A bildungsroman, a demented comedy, a wild romantic fling - The Deadman's Pedal is another thrillingly imagined adventure by one of our finest novelists.
“If you still haven’t read it from last year, Alan Warner’s The Deadman’s Pedal was out in paperback in this. Read it”
Janice Galloway, Scotsman