It’s all happening in the wee Scottish town of Ardgirvan. There’s the main protagonist, Gary Irvine, an average man who has achieved enough to be comfortable: a business, a wife, and a mortgage. It’s safe, it’s conventional, and it’s without incident. Oh, and he loves golf with a miserable passion. His love is evident, his capacity to play is nil.
Meanwhile, his status-seeking wife is shacking up with carpet tycoon Findlay Masterson, who is disturbed by the financial blitz that would occur if he ever had the guts to divorce his none the wise wife. Elsewhere, Gary’s brother Lee, a model of human failure, sees his seedy business plan fall apart and lands him in direct trouble with Ranta Campbell, boss of the family that ‘runs things’.
All these intertwined stories take drastic detours when Gary is knocked out mightily when a golf ball smashes into his head. Some good – open championship, some bad – murder, and some ugly – deceit of the worst kind, everything soon comes to an explosive head.
An entertaining and easy read, Niven displays a canny knack for great dialogue, detailed pop-like descriptions, and an ability to paint wonderful, exuberant, and convincing characters, that all merge into a “romp” of a novel.