battle of the blurbs

OK, so I’ve written a couple of novels that haven’t been published. Yet. One of em I’m still working on a wee bit. Almost finished. One is The Crow Road meets Six Feet Under, the other is Sideways meets Deliverance. In my head, anyway. Here are the blurbs below. If you had to read one, and only one, at gunpoint, which would it be?


Four friends, one weekend, one island, millions of gallons of whisky. What could possibly go wrong?

Driven by amateur whisky nut Adam, four late-thirties ex-uni mates are heading to Islay, the remote Scottish island world famous for its single malts. The four guys have gone their separate ways since uni, but their love of whisky and shared outsider status have just about held their friendship together.

On the weekend, fund manager Roddy wants to show off, take coke and get laid, musician Luke wants to chill out and find some ‘peatreek’ or Scottish moonshine, Ethan just wants to get back to the security of his wife, suburban home and computing job, while Adam has a secret mission.

The trip is supposed to be research for a whisky book he’s writing, but Adam is really here to persuade his friends to invest in a business opportunity too good to miss, one that would finally transform him from perennial loser to man of substance.

Over a weekend soaked in the finest cask strength spirit, they meet young divorcee Molly who Adam has a soft spot for and vice versa, her little sister Ash who has all sorts of problems and Molly’s ex-husband Joe, a violent control freak who also happens to be the police on the island.

When the smokeheads and Molly crash their car in the wilderness, things look bad. Fighting for their lives and struggling for survival, the friends unearth a hidden, lawless world of illegal stills, chaotic lives, extreme landscapes and deadly violence. Some of them won’t make it out, some friends will be saved, some will be buried. Friendship is stretched to breaking point and beyond in an extreme tale of revenge, hate, love, redemption and survival.


Jim Williamson is about to turn fifty and has nothing to show for his waster life. A disinterested columnist for the local Edinburgh rag, he’s divorced, has two grown-up kids he never sees, a dad suffering dementia, no money and no future.

When his sister’s body is found on Portobello beach, everything changes. Suddenly, he has the chance to start again, to be a father to his kids and a respectable member of the community, plus he has a longshot at love with a local academic well out of his league.

But family life isn’t what he expects. Two funerals, two suicide attempts, one Icelandic wedding, a few disastrous parties, several dark, looming family secrets, an exploding whale and an emergency home birth must all be negotiated during a year in which Jim finds out the true meaning of family, commitment, life and love.

Oh, and he also discovers he might be an archetypal figure from the medieval Icelandic sagas, a late-developer-turned-hero, a slacker for half a century who finally turns his dumb, useless life around. A Coalbiter, in other words.

The Coalbiter is a family saga for the twenty-first century spanning a year in the life of a hapless man given a second chance.

Plus you’ll never look at whales the same way again.

About Doug Johnstone

I write things
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3 Responses to battle of the blurbs

  1. DaveC says:

    The Coalbiter, I think. Anything tying modern Edinburgh life to Icelandic mythology has to be good.

  2. Mark W says:

    Smokeheads sounds fun in a drunken Scottish action movie sort of way but the The Crow Road meets Six Feet Under potential of The Coalbiter gets my vote.

  3. Lesley Dickson says:

    The Coalbiter for sure. Icelandic wedding – I’m intrigued.

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