Stewart is standing on the bridge at the place where Callum jumped to his death in Stonemouth by Iain Banks. Stewart has returned, with permission, after five years. Permission? Stewart is back for a funeral. Banks intrigues and mystifies us with each encounter Stewart has as we learn more of the past and why Stewart left and needs permission to return for Joe Murston’s funeral. There is also woman, Ellie, involved.
Friday evening, Stewart, revisits the pubs with Ferg and flashes back to the old days. Saturday morning he wakes and reminds himself about Ellie and his time with her and the warning from her four brothers, Callum, being one of them. He meets up with Grier, Ellie’s younger sister while they are both walking the beach from different directions. Stewart is remembering how he met Grandpa Joe before the rest of the Murstons. Grier catches him up on much of what he missed these past five years. It’s a small town for sure. Present and past are interwoven beautifully as we learn more about why and how Stewart left Stonemouth and we know he has been allowed back for the funeral. Some folks have grown over the past five years, others have not, and some are dead.
Stewart has screwed up his marriage to Ellie by having a last fling and is caught on film. His trip to the funeral is for Joe, but also to see Ellie and maybe reconcile. Ellie’s three remaining brothers and her father have it in for Stewart and give him every step of the way. The ending is a maelstrom of action and excitement. A thriller romance if I’ve ever read one.