Welcome To The Heady Heights By David F. Ross Orenda Books Match 21st 2019
Welcome to the Heady Heights …
It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.
Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…
A hilarious and poignant nod to the elusivity of stardom, in an age when making it’ was ‘having it all’, Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a heartwarming tribute to a bygone age and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.
It was the year of the big heatwave, 1976 and the location the city of Glasgow, when things got more than just a little bit hot for a certain Mr Archie Blunt.
His was a story of politics, murder, sex and showbiz. At times it was funny, at others it was both bleak and dark.
At the heart of Archie’s story was the city of Glasgow, with its working class background. The harsh realities of life were brilliantly and starkly portrayed by Ross, his myriad of characters a dazzling mix of men like Archie, scraping a living, drowning their sorrows, wondering when it would all get better.
There was Gail, a freelance journalist looking to avenge the death of her father at the hands of those in power, even if that meant putting her own life at risk. Barbara, a young police officer, in a male dominated world putting up with lurid innuendo and slaps on the backside and a working day of making endless cups of tea and menial duties deemed appropriate to her sex and intelligence. Oh how I wanted to scream and shout, bang on the table and tell the men exactly what I thought, but this is what it would have been like and I had to accept it and keep my fingers crossed that Barbara would rise above it and show them exactly what she was made of!
Each character was a cog in a wheel, a link in a chain that Ross used to slowly unwind his story. All three set out with the same purpose, yet unaware of the other until Ross carefully and skilfully pulled all the strands together.
The narrative was sharp and punchy and at times very funny, but there was always a darkness lurking underneath. You wanted the characters to succeed and in Archie’s case break free from the relentlessness of his life with no job, no money and a dad with dementia. I loved his determination, his absolute belief in his newly created boy band and felt sympathy in his naivety when faced with blackmail and criminal intrigue.
The criminals were superb, a heady mix of politicians, entertainers, high up police chiefs and newspaper editors, their ‘Circle’ a hotbed of money and sex that wouldn’t look out of place today. Ross was adept at stirring up my emotions, making me feel angry at them, urging me to cheer on the good guys, to see them reap their revenge and bring about their downfall.
Intrigue and suspense permeated the pages and kept me well and truly hooked. The Glasgow setting and use of the true Scottish dialect added a harshness and realism that lifted the novel and made it an enthralling and brilliant read.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Welcome to The Heady heights to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.