Gallowglass (1990)

1990 Penguin paperback SUMMARY
When Sandor snatched little Joe from the path of a London tube train, he was quick to make clear the terms of the rescue. 'I saved your life', he told the homeless youngster, 'so your life belongs to me now.'
- From the 1991 Penguin paperback edition




  • BBC Television, 1993
  • Chivers Audiobook, 03/1991. Read by Dermot Crowley.


  • As Sandor explains to Joe in Chapter 5: 'In ancient Ireland and the Western Highlands a gallowglass was a chief's servant.'

  • Some of the mentions of travelling around London by tube are reminiscent of the much fuller treatment given to the same subject in King Solomon's Carpet.

  • At the Boucheron conference in Vegas in 2003, Rendell said that she would "recall" this book if she could, though I'm not aware of her specific reasons for disliking it.

March 1, 1990

To Pat Kavanagh

Much of the information on kidnapping in Italy which contributes to the background of this novel derives from The Kidnap Business by Mark Bles and Robert Low, Pelham Books, 1987

The merciless Macdonwald . . .
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
And fortune, on his damned quarry smiling,
Show'd like a rebel's whore.
- Macbeth, Act I, scene ii

"A weird, black, compelling story about those who wish to serve, and those who use their subservience."
- Antonia Fraser in the Sunday Times

Gallowglass has a less complex plot and a more compact timespan for the main story than its immediate prececessors under the Vine name. Nonetheless, it still retains a powerful capacity to shock, especially in the descriptions of little Joe's foster family and in the series of casually mentioned twists that make up the conclusion. It is also the first of the Vine novels in which murder does not play a key role from early in the story.

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