It’s all a bit too much isn’t it? Curses and deadly dreams, a mad mother and a criminal father, a childhood full of cruelty and spite, lives ruined, lost, saved, the betrayal of friends. And now a talking bloody turtle. A Scottish turtle, mind you, a creature of the tropics, condemned to live out its days under glowering Glasgow skies. It’s all too much. But it gets worse, let me tell you. It gets much worse yet.


Set in a bleak and rain-bedrizzled Glasgow, this is the story of Donald Pinelli, who has grown up with the knowledge he is cursed to die by drowning on his eighteenth birthday. If that isn't enough, Donald also has to contend with a mad-as-a-hatter psychic mother Trixie, a largely absent gangster father, siblings who hate him and a best friend who betrays him. Life’s mince, and no mistake. But an unexpected encounter with a cantankerous turtle in a rundown zoo abruptly sets young Donald on a crash course in survival.

Years later, Trixie's death brings an older but not much wiser Donald back to Glasgow – to attend her funeral, sort through his childhood memories, come to terms with his failures, and maybe, who knows, forge a new life for himself without his carapace of bitterness and resentment.

A novel of great and gritty charm, this is an eccentric, bittersweet and defiant story about family, fate, and the flippery nature of truth, with a hero - and a turtle - you will never forget.


Published by Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2008