Nicoll, Ruaridh 1969-

views updated

NICOLL, Ruaridh 1969-


Born 1969, in Arbroath, Scotland; son of a mill operator and sheep farmer; married Alison Watt (a painter).


Home—Edinburgh, Scotland. Agent—Antony Harwood, 109 Riverbank House, 1 Putney Bridge Approach, London SW6 3JD, England.


Writer and journalist. Scotland on Sunday, Edinburgh, Scotland, became environment and science correspondent, 1994; Observer, London, England, became Washington, DC correspondent, 1995; Guardian, Manchester, England, southern Africa correspondent until 1998. Previously worked for Lloyds of London.


White Male Heart (novel), Doubleday (London, England), 2001, Justin, Charles (Boston, MA), 2003.

Wide Eyed (novel), Doubleday (London, England), 2003.


Though he comes from the Scottish highlands that provide the setting for his first novel, White Male Heart, Ruaridh Nicoll spent much of his young adulthood traveling far from his home. Recalling his childhood for an autobiographical sketch at the Justin, Charles, and Company Books Web site, he wrote, "There was no television at home[;] the signal could not penetrate the glen's high walls and so I spent the hours of darkness reading. If I devour fancy literature now, it's only because it sits contentedly on the plump belly of all the Desmond Bagley, Wilbur Smith, Sven Hassel, George Macdonald Fraser, Dick Francis, and Gerald Seymour novels I consumed as a boy."

In White Male Heart young protagonists Hugh MacIntyre and Aaron Harding fall under the spell of Mac Seruant, an embittered poacher whose sense of alienation from local society is only heightened by his black skin and African ancestry. When a docile whip-pet wins a dog race at a local festival, Mac's Jack Russell terrier attacks it. At the same festival, Hugh meets Becky, a young girl visiting from London. The violent Aaron soon begins to resent Becky, as well as the friend he regards as a traitor, and takes out his frustration on his own girlfriend, the gentle Alison.

"Hugh's passionate and giddy coming-of-age story blossoms under this poised menace," promised David Wright in Library Journal, while a reviewer in Publishers Weekly concluded that "With a breathtaking denouement, it's an auspicious debut." A commentator in Kirkus Reviews warned readers of "scenes of rape and murder that surpass Patricia Highsmith at her darkest." Wright also noted that "flashes of brutality …may prove too gamey for some readers, but those with strong stomachs will enjoy."

Nicoll's second novel, Wide Eyed, is set on the Scottish coast and begins after the sinking of a boat called the Albatross. Betsy Gillander, visiting from London with her unloving fiancée, becomes drawn into local events: she leaves the fiancée for James Rego, owner of the boat, and befriends Helen, whose lover was the captain.



Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of White Male Heart, p. 171.

Library Journal, February 15, 2003, David Wright, review of White Male Heart, p. 170.

Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of White Male Heart, p. 48.


Justin, Charles, and Co. Books Web site, (September 16, 2003).*