Polygon Books

Birlinn Limited
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Polygon publishes a wide range of fiction, poetry and biography and even the occasional cookbook. Best known as publishers of Alexander McCall Smith.
    Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books12 days ago
    Stories starring a sleuthing Scottish lawyer: “McKay’s command of plot, place and character makes these 16th century St Andrews-set mysteries a delight.” —The ScotsmanA grisly murder. A vanishing corpse. A secret romance. A ghostly tale. An innocent accused.Set in the year of the Armada, 1588: A Calendar of Crime brings together five short stories featuring Hew Cullan. From the gruesome murder of a candlemaker to Spanish ghosts on Hallowmas, Shirley McKay delivers five gripping tales of mystery that will keep you reading long into the night.“A fascinating evocation of the everyday life of ordinary Scots in the 1500s as well as series of first-rate stories. Her use of language is a delight, the sinewy and expressive Scots words aiding the creation of Cullen's very realistic world. McKay is to be congratulated for the continued quality and inventiveness of her tales.” —The National
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    A sequence of poetry based on the tragic, ancient Irish legend, from the author of Out of the Ordinary and Iona.The story of Deirdre of the Sorrows is widely known in Ireland, yet all but forgotten across the water in Scotland. This great tragic love story, which has its roots in the ninth or tenth century, is very much shared by both countries. For Deirdre, according to the legend, fled with her lover Naoise to Argyll. The oldest song in Scotland is believed to be Deirdre’s haunting farewell to her adopted land as she returns once more to Ireland. In this new sequence, Deirdre of the Sorrows, Kenneth Steven beautifully reimagines the legend of this love story; he brings back to life Deirdre’s journey and attempts to capture its timeless power.“Steven tells his interpretation with a poet’s ear for telling phrasing, and a reporter’s eagerness for pace and development. There is also a great sense of place in his epic, and a brooding melancholy threaded through the initial triumph of love. Steven here writes with the music of his mother’s singing of a tale of beauty and loss, ancient and yet resonating among our contemporary uncertainties.” —Church Times (UK)
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    A Scottish isle hosts a literary festival in this humorous yet tragic novel by the author of A Method Actor's Guide to Jekyll and Hyde.On an island like no other, populated by writers, the annual Brilliant & Forever Festival is a much anticipated event; its participants a story away from either glory or infamy. This year, three best friends—two human, one alpaca—are chosen to compete, so victory is not only about reward. This is a novel like no other; a wonderful, provocative tussle, a whip-cracking, energetic, laugh-out-loud satire on what we value in culture, and in our lives. And yet, written with exquisite warmth and empathy, it’s also a moving exploration of integrity, friendship and belonging. It’ll split your sides and break your heart.Praise for The Brilliant & Forever“Laugh-out-loud funny. It’s so refreshing to read a book that isn’t like anything else.” —David Robinson“A wise warm-hearted meditation on the human condition.” —TheScotsman (UK)“Full of wry detail and satirical flourish, a demonstration of virtuoso storytelling. MacNeil atomizes the process of othering by which communities define themselves. All of that makes it sound overly serious, which it isn’t: MacNeil’s prose style keeps things light, lyrical, and funny.” —The Skinny“The reader will realize that this charming, sad novel is inspired by Italo Calvino . . . . It is a joy to read such an engaging, luminous novel, which dissects rather than enacts our cultural cringe.” —The Guardian (UK)
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    “A book about war that, like The Naked and the Dead or Catch-22, manages to be about very much more” (Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening).Odysseus is returning to Ithaca after nearly twenty years—half of it spent as a soldier and the other half as a soldier of fortune. During his absence, his wife, Penelope, has remained faithful, despite Odysseus being missing and presumed dead. But when her husband suddenly reappears, he confronts those who have been trying to seduce his wife and kills them all.Based on Homer’s ancient epics, this is a novel about war and peace—and about how returning soldiers can find peace more horrible than war and home more hellish than the battlefield.“The narrative of the novel drives along fast, and Odysseus’s adventures on his long journey home are vividly presented. Readers already familiar with them are unlikely to be disappointed; many who come to them fresh will be enthralled.” —The Scotsman“Startlingly original.” —The Times
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    Scottish detective Alice Rice puts her career—and life—on the line in this “excellent crime novel” from the author of No Sorrow to Die (Scottish Field).When the body of a half-clothed woman is discovered in an Edinburgh park, a murder investigation is launched. The victim has not been reported missing, and there are few clues to her identity. Soon after, the naked corpse of a prominent clergyman is found, also in a park. DS Alice Rice wonders if the same killer is at work, and if so, what is the connection between the apparently motiveless attacks? The Road to Hell, the fifth in the series, takes the policewoman to new personal depths along a trail that leads to some of Edinburgh’s darkest and scariest corners.“Ian Rankin made it his way to be familiar with the workings of the police force—Gillian Galbraith’s background is in the legal profession and brings the same authority to her writing and the same ability to bring the city to life . . . We’ve also got a very compelling protagonist in DS Alice Rice.” —The Bookbag
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    A tale of love, revenge and survival against the odds, set in Venice and Russia in the 1940s. 'A profoundly moving novel with echoes of Vasily Grossman that sweeps you from Russia to Italy over the course of a gripping, richly evocative and atmospheric tale' — Alex Preston Russia, 1943. A girl from Leningrad and a soldier from Venice stand together on the edge of wilderness. He is a shadow of a man, trapped behind wire, an enemy in her land. Taking something from her pocket, she slips her hand through the wire and catches her skin on a barb, producing a tiny drop of blood. 'Have this.' The man takes the gift — a small crust of bread, a little piece of hope. Its memory will nourish him, keep him alive, on his long journey home to Italy. But when he returns, he must decide which path to take — to be true to the love of the girl who saved his life, or to pursue his unfulfilled vow and seek revenge on the man who had ruined his home and his family.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    A spy uncovers a political plot in 18tn century Vienna in this sequel to the acclaimed historical thriller Secretum—“another tour-de-force of derring do” (Historical Novel Society).Vienna, 1711. Atto Melani, a spy in the service of Louis XIV, arranges for his faithful helper to relocate from a Roman slum to the imperial court in Vienna. There, Atto enlists his help in a secret mission to bring about the end of the war between France and Austria. Meanwhile, a Turkish delegation has arrived in Vienna for talks with Emperor Joseph I—despite the fact that Austria is supposed to be at peace with the Ottoman Empire.When the emperor suddenly falls ill with smallpox and students are targeted by a serial killer, some fear that a centuries-old power struggle has been reignited. Can Atto and his helper prevent Europe from descending into all-out conflict? An unfinished palace known as the Place with No Name, an exotic menagerie and a fantastical Flying Ship are just some of the ingredients of this baroque spy novel.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books13 days ago
    Alice Rice—“a strong female detective on the Scottish crime scene”—must stem the tide of murder in a new thriller from the author of The Road to Hell (The Bookbag).A young disabled girl is lost on a winter’s night in Leith, unable to help herself or find her way home. Someone is combing the streets, frantically searching for her. Within hours of her disappearance, a body is washed up on Beamer Rock, a tiny island in the River Forth being used as part of the foundations for the new Queensferry bridge. No sooner has Det. Inspector Alice Rice managed to discover the identity of that body than another one is washed up on the edge of the estuary in Belhaven Bay. What is the connection between the two bodies? Are there other victims in the killer’s sights? If so, can Alice solve the puzzle before another life is taken? In this novel, the sixth in the series, appearances belie reality, and truths and falsehoods gradually merge, becoming indistinguishable.Praise for Gillian Galbraith and the Alice Rice Mystery Series“Highly readable.” —Alexander McCall Smith, New York Times–bestselling author of Dream Angus“An author to watch.” —Publishing News“[Galbraith] offers a much-needed female perspective on the city and the genre.” —Scottish Field
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books17 days ago
    “A pacy thriller with an above-average laugh count…David has created a gem in the lovable rogue Peacock.” —TheScotsman Peacock Johnson’s got an idea that’s guaranteed to make him rich, and a friend who’s willing to invest in the idea. But Peacock’s having some difficulty laying the groundwork for his less-than-legal enterprise. Local homicide detective Duncan McFadgen is convinced that Peacock is responsible for a recent murder, and is constantly on Peacock’s tail, badgering him with questions and trying to break his alibi for the night of the murder. Peacock’s path to riches seems to be vanishing into the ether—and then things begin to seriously unravel . . . From the acclaimed novelist also known as the founder of the band Belle and Sebastian, this witty, gritty crime thriller is “good fast-paced fun” (Sunday Herald).
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books17 days ago
    In Glasgow, a single mom with a secret life gets caught up in murder: “A gripping whodunit [with] a good measure of comedy” (Scottish Field).   Annette Somerville, a young single mother, earns her living giving men massages—along with a few extra services—at a high-class Glasgow sauna, scrupulously keeping her respectable home life separate from her professional activities. Then, during a series of seemingly unconnected murders in the city, Annette realizes that all the victims have been regular customers.   No one else seems interested, and her boss makes it clear that going to the police will cost Annette her job. But Annette’s new boyfriend, a former customer of the sauna, could be the murderer’s next victim . . .   This is a unique and witty crime thriller from the author of Close Quarters, praised as “excellent reading” by Scots Magazine.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    The central character is not Spartacus himself, but Kleon, a fictional Greek educated slave and eunuch who joins the revolt. In the first chapter we are told how he was sold into slavery as a child and sexually abused by an owner.Another important character is Elpinice, a female slave who helps Spartacus and his fellow gladiators escape from Capua, and who becomes Spartacus's lover. She gives birth to a son, but while Spartacus is fighting elsewhere she is raped and murdered by soldiers, and the child is also killed. The novel touches on Gibbon's views on human history, with Spartacus seen as a survivor of the Golden Age.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    The descendants of the Gaels are scattered far and wide across the world – a diaspora that is at once cherished and overlooked. This unique, heartfelt book brings vividly to life through raps, secular psalms, love poems and aphorisms the Gaelic experience as it was, as it is and as it might be. Shore to Shore/Cladach gu Cladach is a vital legacy of the multimedia project Struileag, at the heart of which lies poetry, and is a demonstration that inside every culture is to be found the whole human condition.This book contains contemporary poetry and text from all around the Gaelic diaspora commissioned over a three year period. Struileag has also delivered a 60 minute show Children of the Smoke which premiered during the Commonwealth Games 2014, a TV arts show, a CD of the show and an engaged, international, online community. Struileag is a La Banda project Artistic director – Jim Sutherland
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    For investigative journalist Carl Shewan, the Scottish coastal village of Inverlair is a picturesque cage. Imprisoned in this remote refuge by a technological catastrophe for which he feels partly responsible, Carl struggles to adapt to impending fatherhood and to a harsh new existence in an ancient landscape, until a childless gamekeeper offers him an alternative to guilt and alienation. Set in the near future, Lie of the Land examines the claustrophobia of small-town life and questions how far the state will go to preserve an orderly society, one in which ubiquitous surveillance has reduced human life to a virtual experience.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    Originally published in 2000 by Polygon to mark the 250th anniversary of Fergusson's birth, this new edition contains all Fergusson's finest poems in both Scots and English, and features a new introductory essay, revised orthography, a substantial section of notes and a glossary. Acknowledged as a crucial influence on Burns, Robert Fergusson was a remarkable poet in his own right. All his work was produced during a few brief years, delighting readers with its vigour and power. Although he wrote much verse in the then fashionable style of Augustan English, it is his Scots verse which, in its great warmth, humanity, satire, and hilarious comedy, is his enduring legacy. His work covers the whole gamut of human emotions and experience and his subject matter ranges from drunken encounters with the notorious City Guard to quieter reflections on pastoral themes. Fergusson died in 1774 at the age of only 24.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    A verse novella by Glasgow Laureate Jim Carruth, Killochries tracks the relationship of two very different men working a remote farm over the course of twelve months. A young man is sent to work at Killochries, a farm belonging to a relative, after burning out in the city. He is appalled by the absence of his previous life’s essentials, by the remote strangeness of this new world.The old shepherd has never left the hills; has farmed them all his life. He doesn’t care for the troubles of the modern world, trusting only in God, and greets the incomer with taciturn indifference. Through weeks shaped by conflict, hardship and loss a new understanding grows.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    Alongside the mountain poems from Men on Ice, Order of the Day and Western Swing will be brand new material, facsimiles of previously unpublished material – including his first poem, written in 1972 – and illustrations and material from the National Library of Scotland archive. A beautiful collector's item full of illustrations, marginalia and notes.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    It is the late seventeenth century and still the movement of the planets remains a mystery despite the revolutionary work of Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei and Tycho Brahe almost a hundred years previously. Edmond Halley – dynamic adventurer and astronomer – seeks the help of Isaac Newton in unravelling the problem, but though obsessed with understanding the orbits of the planets, Newton has problems of his own which could undermine the essential work. The reclusive mathematician and alchemist has a guilty secret. He stole some of his ideas from Robert Hooke, and the quarrelsome experimentalist is demanding recognition. While capable of the loftiest ideals and theorising, the three men are just as quick to bicker and hold petty grudges which could derail scientific advancement. The men's lives and work clash as Europe is pushed headlong towards the Age of the Enlightenment and science is catapulted into its next seismic collision with religion.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    Tom Pow's beautiful, powerful poems examine the remarkable life of Thomas Watling. Watling was born in Dumfries in September 1762 and raised by a long-suffering maiden aunt. Convicted of forging Bank of Scotland one-guinea notes he was sentenced to fourteen years in the recently founded colony of Botany Bay in Australia. The first professional artist to arrive in the colony, Watling was seconded to its Surgeon General (and amateur naturalist) John White. His pioneer paintings of birds, animals and the landscape became some of the principal records of the earliest days of Australia. He was eventually pardoned, on 5 April 1797, and left Australia, eventually returning home to Dumfries. He died there, most likely in 1814.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    Nephew of a semi-literate peasant, Justinian I was one of the most fascinating of the Roman emperors. His reign marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his prolific building works yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia, which remains the third largest church in Christendom. Although he never took part in military campaigns personally he managed to expand considerably the Eastern Roman Empire's territory. Justinian's wife Theodora, daughter of a bear keeper and former prostitute, was his partner in one of the greatest love stories in history. After her early death – in her forties – Justinian was devastated and sought oblivion in work, becoming known as the Emperor who never sleeps.
  • Birlinn Limitedadded a book to the bookshelfPolygon Books3 months ago
    ’a first class, fast-moving thriller, brilliantly atmospheric, all in a setting in which the cold of the winter is not the only chill!' – crimereview.co.uk It’s December, and the Shannon family are returning home to their clifftop mansion near Kinloch for their annual AGM. Shannon International is one of the world’s biggest private companies, with tendrils reaching around the globe in computing, banking and mineral resourcing, and it has brought untold wealth and privilege to the family. However, a century ago Archibald Shannon stole the land upon which he built their home – and his descendants have been cursed ever since. When heavy snow cuts off Kintyre, DCI Jim Daley and DS Brian Scott are assigned to protect their illustrious visitors. As an ancient society emerges from the blizzards, and its creation, the Rat Stone, reveals grisly secrets, ghosts of the past come to haunt the Shannons. As the curse decrees, death is coming – but for whom and from what? Also available from Denzil Meyrick: Whisky from Small Glasses, The Last Witness and Dark Suits and Sad Songs.
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