He's the new black

They say crime doesn't pay but a former Kelso man is banking on it with the publication of his first crime novel by one of the world's biggest publishers.

Tony Black's debut novel, Paying for It, will hit shops this month following a two-book deal with The Da Vinci Code publishers, Random House.

The story is set in Edinburgh and advance reviews have brought comparisons to Ian Rankin and predictions that Black will be the next big thing in the genre.

"It's all a bit mind-blowing," said the 36-year-old former Edenside Primary pupil.

"I never dreamed Paying for It would attract so much praise. Writers like Ken Bruen and Allan Guthrie have stepped up to bat for the book and it's incredible."

Martyn Waites, writer of the Joe Donovan series of crime novels, said: "of all the new writers emerging this year, he is the one to watch".

"I'm very, very flattered," said the author in response.

The crime story is set on the mean streets of the Scottish capital and features washed up investigative journalist Gus Dury seeking the truth about the grisly torture and murder of a friend's son.

But Black, who currently works as a sub-editor for the Scotsman Group in Edinburgh, and is a former Young Journalist of the Year, fights shy of any comparison to his lead character.

"Gus is a bit of a walking disaster," he explained. "I don't think I'd have lasted five minutes as a hack with Gus's methods. His default gear is brawling.

"He's also a bit too fond of a dram and has a knack of falling foul of the police – not the best of traits when you've deadlines to meet."

The second book in the series, entitled Gutted, is due for publication a year from now.

"The next one sees Gus Dury delving into the murky world of dog fighting," continued Black.

"It's set in Edinburgh too. I don't think I'll be making any friends on the city's tourist board.

"My publishers are really pleased with the way things are going so far and there's talk of me writing up to 20 books in the series."

Paying for It is published by Preface, an imprint of Random House, and is available in hardback from July 17.

Tony Black will appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 15. For more details visit www.tonyblack.net