Sunday, March 3, 2013

If You Fly With The Crows - Neal Sillars

    2010; 193 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre :  Anecdotal Humor.  Overall Rating : 6*/10.

    Rab Sinclair has a steady career in retail.  Well, that’s nicespeak for stocking the shelves at the local grocery store.  It pays the bills, albeit barely, and keeps him happily drinking beer and eating donner kebabs for supper.  But his class reunion is coming up in a couple of months, and compared to the bios some of his former classmates have posted at Friends Reunited (especially his ex-GF Caroline), shelf-stocker seems a bit underwhelming.

    The time has come for a career change.  But to what?  Well, how about something entrepreneurial?  Find a need, supply a product, make a profit.  How difficult can that be?.

What’s To Like...
    The setting is Scotland, and the book gives you a nice feel for the daily life of the common man there.  Neal Sillars is Scottish by birth, and a lot of the dialogue is in the mother tongue (“So A’ll be needin tae borrow ma da’s motor, if that’s awright, Mam.”).  Some may find this tiresome, but I thought it added to the scene-setting.

    The author has a lot of fun with various literary devices – the Fourth Wall, flashbacks, a deus ex machina or two, and the always-popular MacGuffin.  This is not a book for the kiddies – there is some cussing, and Rab turns to sex toys for his product line.  Ah, but the tartan dildo is a clever marketing …um… device.

    The humor will not be to everyone’s taste, and Rab will not be everyone’s idea of a hero.  Both remind me of the “Flashman” series, penned by George MacDonald Fraser, another Scottish writer.  Personally, I am not a big Flashman fan, but to each his own.

    “It’s a Windsor knot you’re wanting there, Son.  Look at the states of that knot!  Who would ever say you were a son of mine?”
    The look of disgust on his face appeared genuine and I must confess that what he said did make me think, but I couldn’t imagine my mum having ever been with anyone else but dad.  (loc. 638)

    We’re not big on cocktails in Lanarkshire and I don’t think it’s just an issue of price.  We have an unspoken macho code which limits many of the things men are allowed to do.  We don’t cry, we don’t wear vests, we eat food which is so spicy that it is barely edible and we don’t walk about holding hands with our girlfriends unless we have just started going out, to name but a few of these unwritten rules.  (loc. 3063)

Kindle Details...
    If You Fly With The Crows sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  Neal Sillars has several other books for sale there, but ANAICT, none are of the humor genre.

“If ye fly wi the craws, ye’ll die wi the craws, Robert!” (loc. 231)
    IYFWTC has plenty of wit, insight, and musings.  Unfortunately, these asides come via way too many tangents, which simply overshadow the storyline.  Rab’s business is an instant success, girls can’t wait to hop into bed with him, and even when he’s trussed up and dangling from a crane in Colombia, you know he’s going to be okay, since he’s writing/telling the story to you.

    All this makes for very little literary tension, capped off by an ending that just sort of winds down rather than building to a climax.  6 Stars because, although it wasn’t a compelling story, neither was it boring; and it’s refreshing to read a story about Scotland that doesn’t sound like it’s straight out of National Geographic.  Add two more stars if you think that Flashman really is your kind of hero.


Scotsman abroad said...


I've just seen your review. I like the 2 extra stars you would give me, if I liked Flashman!

It seemed fair to me and thanks for posting it on my birthday!


Neal Sillars

Hamilcar Barca said...

My pleasure, sir, and thanks for the feedback. I hope the review was reasonably accurate. Any chance that there's a Rab Sinclair sequel in the works?

Scotsman abroad said...

I had started something but Tam's team is suffering a little at the moment. I'm going to wait to see if they continue to exist before I write about them. Sláinte!

Shona Paterson said...

I loved the book. So much so it inspired me to write my own little story, set in Scotland. It's called Where the Eagles Fly and has just been released as a kindle on Amazon. The scene is set between Stirling, Blairlogie and Edinburgh and has an Ochil Hills focus. The books isn't funny like Neal's but, if you like books set in Scotland instead of reading about places in the United States you might like this one! Listed as adult fiction/thriller suspense. I would have loved Neal to review it but its all new to me and I've just found him on this blogger spot - if he's still out there ..

Shona Paterson.

12 Nov 2014

Scotsman abroad said...

Hi Shona,

I've just picked up your message via Hamilcar's Books (excuse the use of your platform!).
You could contact me via the following facebook page below.


Hamilcar Barca said...

No problem, Neal & Shona. I'm happy to help Indie authors in any way I can.

Shona Paterson said...

Thanks to you both, really appreciate the support.