Cocaine is known by a myriad of different names, including Charlie, snow, toot and white. But in Glasgow in the early 1980s, they called it Happy Dust. At no-holds-barred parties of the glamorous and wealthy, cocaine fuelled the loss of inhibitions and the realisation of fantasies. It was the new aphrodisiac for which glamorous models would shed their clothes and ordinary housewives would forget their vows. A few lines of Charlie and a humdrum party could become an orgy. The trail led from the forests of Colombia to Glasgow streets where butchers and bakers, fruiterers and Ferrari drivers passed Charlie along the line to the cocktail set, yuppies desperate for kicks and thrills, young people in clubs and discotheques, and highly paid sports stars. Behind it all was a man they called the Parachutist. But all too soon, the party was over. People became too greedy and the Parachutist was double-crossed. Some of the gang did shady deals with detectives in hotel rooms; others flew to seek shelter in the sun, their reputations destroyed but not their fortunes. For the Happy Dust Gang the good times might have been over but their legacy lives on to this day.
David Leslie has worked for the News of the World since 1970. Since then, he has covered scores of major stories, including the tragedies of Zeebrugge, Piper Alpha, Lockerbie and Dunblane. He has been based in Glasgow since 1994, concentrating on crime and major investigations. He is also the author of the bestselling Crimelord: The Licensee, about the elusive multimillionaire gangster Tam McGraw.