Laidlaw was born in Aberdeen and now lives in East Lothian. He attended the University of Cambridge and has spent time working and traveling in southern Africa. In 1979, while working as a geography and history teacher at Belhaven Hill School near Dunbar, Laidlaw's first book was released, The Lion is Rampant, receiving significant praise. He has since released five more books with the most recent being Justinian: The Sleepless One which was released in 2010.
The Lion is Rampant (1979) (ISBN 9780904002270) - originally published by Molendinar Press, it is a political thriller set in Scotland during the 1980s.
The Linton Porcupine (1984) (ISBN 9780862410636) - originally published by Littlehampton Book Services, set in 16th century Scotland it is written as the journal of Nicholas Wainwright who has been sent to find a weapon that is being created by the Scots.
Aphra Behn: Dispatch'd from Athole (1992) (ISBN 9781872557175) - originally published by Balnain Books, set in 17th century Britain, the story tells of Aphra Behn's journal which details her mission to Scotland as a spy.