Friday 22 October 2021

The Sound of Sirens by Ewan Gault - [Review]

The Sound of Sirens by Ewan Gault 

Print length: 286 pages
Publisher: Garrison (Leamington Books)
Publication date: 22 October 2021

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


In a dead-beat coastal town in North East Scotland, seventeen-year-old Malky Campbell is desperate to help his pregnant and heroin addicted girlfriend. DI Stark, a middle-aged detective, alarmed by the rise of teenage and gang crime in Port Cawdor, uncovers the operations of a county line gang that are flooding the area with drugs and engaging in a vicious turf war with the local crime family. Malky has just started working on his family's trawler with his cousin Johnny, when their boat pulls up Johnny's brother in its nets. The rest of the crew, the tightly-knit community and the police start to suspect that the cousins are responsible for his death. With his brother dead, Johnny inherits the family trawler, which he had planned to use to smuggle drugs into the country for the county line gang, giving him enough money to start a new life. Ewan Gault's debut, The Sound of Sirens is a tough, modern crime novel, presenting the complexities of young life in a town at the end of the line.


A harrowing concoction of crime, violence and heartbreak. A story that will leave a permanent imprint on your heart!

I was absorbed by the plot almost instantly, unlike many other books, Ewan doesn't mess around and the plot begins with Malky's uncle Joe's dead body being fished out of the water. From the moment that Joe's body was discovered, it was clear that something fishy (no pun intended) had happened and here the story begins to unwind. 

The main character is seventeen-year-old Malky Campbell who by all means, appears to have a better academic chance than his other family members and people believe that Malky stood a good chance of being something good but with the influence of his cousins that chance is greatly reduced. The fishing community is a tight-knit bunch who believe Malky is destined to be in charge of his family's trawler. Malky and his family live in Port Cawdor which was previously a successful fishing town but has now succumbed to the drug epidemic, where young people dream of leaving but always somehow end up mixed up within the drug scene. I adored Malky, you could see his kindness shining through and his internal struggles with doing right by his family whilst trying to save his pregnant and heavily addicted friend from the harsh conditions she is living in. As the story continues you can see that Malky is faced with going against his own moral compass to make a decision to help his friends which leaves Malky in a very precarious spot. The entire time I was reading this book I was on edge, wishing Malky to make the harsh but sensible choice but knowing heartbreakingly that he is just a teenage boy who is in love and love is a powerful drug in itself. 

I would argue that in Malky's case, love was his drug of choice and was the core reason why he makes some of the decisions he does, he's desperate to not only love and save his pregnant friend but to also be loved and I think that's what broke my heart the most. 

DI Stark is an experienced officer who is sickened by what Port Cawdor has turned into. He is a hardened police detective who has had to deal with the ongoing drug crisis his town is facing, He fears what this drug rampaged place will do to his daughter Zoe and after seeing the worst of the worst type of drug-related crimes, he really wants out, but first, he has to figure out what exactly is going on within the trawler community. DI Stark is an intelligent and driven character that needs to unearth whatever secrets Malky is holding and he won't stop until he has achieved it but he also had a lot of heart hidden under that grumpy exterior. 

This story whilst absolutely heart-breaking is an incredible read, you see humanity at its lowest, you experience what crippling addiction and poverty looks like, but the saddest thing of all is you see insurmountable amounts of hope that burns within the youth that have all the odds stacked up against them. This is the finest crime novel I have read in a long while, I absolutely recommend to anyone who loves a good authentic crime story to give this book a read, you won't regret it!

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book, I hope to see more of Ewan Gault's fantastic work in the future! 

Waterstones purchase link here

Foyles purchase link here

About The Author

Ewan Gault is an English teacher at a sixth form college in Tottenham. Originally from Scotland, he's lived and worked in Japan, Italy and for the last nine years in England. He loves running long distances and reading short stories: his favourite writers in this form are Denis Johnson, Alice Munro and Raymond Carver. 'The Sound of Sirens' is his first crime novel. The novel grew out of a short story that was published in New Writing Scotland a decade ago and which contained a group of characters whose stories demanded telling. Chapters in the novel have won Aberdeen Uni's Toulmin Prize and The Fish Knife/CWA prize.

Follow Ewan Gault on Twitter: @EwanGault

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