Friday 13 May 2011

Book: Smokeheads by Doug Johnstone

“Four friends. One weekend. Gallons of whisky. What could go wrong?”

Well, after a promising start almost everything goes wrong for both the characters involved and the reader in this tale of misadventure in the Highlands.

Four thirty-something friends head off on a lads weekend away to the Scottish island of Islay (pronounced Eye-La). Their itinerary includes trips to the island’s famous whisky distilleries and one of them even has plans to start up a whisky business but he needs the help of his wealthy friend to get it off the ground.

Johnstone creates a fantastic atmosphere of camaraderie amongst the gang as they meet various locals with mixed results but when an aggressive bully suddenly becomes a cold blooded killer it’s a step too far.

The trip goes from bad to worse and what was a feel good story becomes a far-fetched fight for survival that might have worked had the first half of the book not been so jovial.
Just like the characters involved I was loving it to begin with (this book made me want to: 1. Drink whisky 2. Visit Islay 3. Go on a lads weekend away) but towards the end I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

The book has a wonderful setting (although I am biased) and good characters but the whole thing would have worked better as a kind of...The Hangover In The Highlands instead of the Dreary Deliverance it became.

Ric’s Rating: 58%


  1. As soon as I began reading your review, The Hangover and about a dozen other similar flicks came to mind.

  2. Yep, he should have stuck to the comedy.

  3. Billy Robinson14 May 2011 at 12:00

    I really enjoyed the review, Rick, though the book doesn't sound too great. Think I'll give it a miss.

  4. Cheers Billy, it had plenty potential, I really wanted to like it and I did up to a point it just got a bit silly.


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