The Nessman looks at life through the lens of rural Scotland in the early - mid 20th century. The celebrities are local legends and life is hard, based on farming and fishing. Colin is an unlikable smart arse who is ill fitted to a life on the land and heads for academia and Aberdeen University. The narrative shifts from third person to first person when he starts letter writing. Through both we see his downward spiral into alcoholism and lack of ambition. It is not an uplifting tale but is full of humour, mostly self-deprecating on the part of Colin, and has a poignant honesty too it about what it means to be an outcast.