The 2013 James Tait Black Prize for Fiction went to The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner. This novel is the first novel in the Simon Crimmons Trilogy.
It is the early 1970s in the Highlands of Scotland and for 16-year-old Simon Crimmons there’s really not much to do. He can hang around with his pals or his first-ever girlfriend, Nikki, he can dream about a first motorbike to get him out of the Port and among the hills, but in truth he’s going nowhere.
The only local drama and romance is provided by the rural railway, and Simon ends up working on the trains by chance, thrown into a community of jaded older men. But that summer he is introduced to a world far more glamorous and strange. He meets the louche, bohemian Alex, and his dark, gorgeous sister, Varie: all that remains of ‘the doomed family’ of the great house at Broken Moan, where their father, Andrew Bultitude, is Commander of the Pass. When Simon falls in love with the otherworldly Varie he is suddenly given a freedom and mobility that is both thrilling and vertiginous.
With The Deadman’s Pedal, Alan Warner returns to the landscapes of Morvern Callar and his early novels: a world where the real and the surreal, grim trade unionists and the crazed aristocracy, live under the shadows of the same great mountains, along the same railway line. A demented comedy, a wild romantic fling – The Deadman’s Pedal is another thrillingly imagined adventure by one of our finest novelists. (Goodreads)