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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and gripping
Somewhat against my expectations, I thought this was a really excellent book. The story, set in present-day Glasgow, is of a request for a professional gunman to kill a small-time drug dealer and of its consequences for the various people involved. It sounds like a rather run-of-the-mill crime thriller, but turned out to be original, gripping and, to me at least, very...
Published on 6 Jan. 2013 by Sid Nuncius

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good debut but not without its issues
This book was recommended to me as a fresh take on the crime novel from a new Scottish author. Plenty other reviewers have provided a synopsis of the plot so I won't waste time explaining it again here.
It definitely injects new ideas and a takes a fresh approach to the modern tradition of Scottish crime literature but I agree with other reviewers about influences...
Published 22 months ago by AlbaBoy


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and gripping, 6 Jan. 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Somewhat against my expectations, I thought this was a really excellent book. The story, set in present-day Glasgow, is of a request for a professional gunman to kill a small-time drug dealer and of its consequences for the various people involved. It sounds like a rather run-of-the-mill crime thriller, but turned out to be original, gripping and, to me at least, very haunting.

It is less a police procedural than a sort of drugs-world contract killing procedural. The narrative style is very pared down with few adjectives and almost no similes. It generally uses very short sentences. Quite often without a verb. I found this extremely effective and I was very quickly engrossed. The narrative is all third-person, but we get the thoughts and perspectives of a number of characters throughout the book, each of whom is very well portrayed. Descriptions are brief but very evocative, like this when a character hides in an alley: "The smell in the alley doesn't help. It's nothing specific, just a dirty smell. A mixture of all of life's ugly things, all pushed into the corners." We also get some very perceptive glimpses of people's inner worlds, like the young hit-man reflecting on his future: "It's a chilling thought. You work hard, take risks and make sacrifices when you're younger, and all you end up with is a craving for the things you sacrificed."

The plotting is excellent, the pacing is very taut and it makes for an exceptionally well-told and gripping story - but it is a good deal more than that, I think. For once, the publisher's hype is close to being justified; I think Malcolm MacKay really is a remarkable new voice in crime fiction and one that I enjoyed very much. I will certainly be looking out for the next in the trilogy, and I recommend this one very warmly indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good debut but not without its issues, 8 May 2013
By 
AlbaBoy (Western Isles) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
This book was recommended to me as a fresh take on the crime novel from a new Scottish author. Plenty other reviewers have provided a synopsis of the plot so I won't waste time explaining it again here.
It definitely injects new ideas and a takes a fresh approach to the modern tradition of Scottish crime literature but I agree with other reviewers about influences being drawn from American crime literature.

Positives
- An entertaining and believable collection of characters that hold your interest throughout the story. Although none of them are particularly likeable to the reader, they are well drawn and suited to the plot.
- Whilst the story does draw on traditional gangland fodder, it creates a narrative that is new and interesting.
- Telling the story in third-person present tense from the perspective of the cast of characters allows you to see the events from different perspectives and helps to hold your interest.
- The story is lean and doesn't rely on extended descriptive prose, allowing for the plot to take centre-stage.
- The pace of the storytelling is steady and clinically controlled. This makes a pleasant change from books that rely on the big bangs and explosions that some books rely on to move the story along.

Negatives
- For me, it completely lacks any sense of place. Other than being directly told it takes place in Glasgow at the beginning of the book, the story makes no other tangible reference to its setting. There are no street names, areas, pubs, shops landmarks to help ground the story apart from a brief reference to a nightclub name and an ambiguous mention of 'the river'. This is in stark contrast to the likes of Ian Rankin's Rebus series where Edinburgh plays a starring role. I know the author chose to omit lengthy descriptions of settings but the lack of 'Glasgow' in a Glasgow gangland novel is a significant weakness in my eyes.
- The author's use of short sentences really began to grate a bit by the end. I know this helped to create the mood, it does become a bit onerous.
- Whilst I did like the third-person present tense narrative, it was occasionally a little unsettling as we jumped from character to character.
- A tiny annoyance but the references to 'whiskey' was strange. Its perfectly plausible that the different characters were enjoying a drop of the Irish stuff but it seems to be more of an error than a deliberate use.

Overall, it was an enjoyable debut read from a skilled author and I will definitely be reading the next in the trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starkly written and tightly plotted Tartan noir debut, 29 Sept. 2014
29-year-old Callum MacLean is a hit man in Glasgow. He works freelance for the city’s various crime organisations and he’s known for being good at his work. When Frank MacLeod, a senior gunman working for Peter Jamieson’s organisation needs a hip replacement, he suggests that Jamieson use MacLean for a job he needs doing. Lewis Winter – a middle-aged drug dealer who’s always been a small time loser – is encroaching on Jamieson’s territory and he seems to have serious backing. Jamieson wants him taken out. MacLean takes the job but he’s worried that it’ll lead to Jamieson wanting more from him, more than he’s willing to give …

Malcolm Mackay’s debut crime thriller is a tightly written, taut Tartan noir tale of hit men and crime syndicates in Glasgow. I loved the clipped, efficient writing style and the way Mackay swaps between the different characters to flesh out the seedy, violent world in which they operate. The plot itself is slim – it’s all about the hit and the aftermath – but the psychologies at play and the way the characters make decisions based on the information available to them kept me gripped. These are not nice people and Mackay is quick to strip away the supposed glamour of their sordid lives but at the same time, it’s very easy to empathise with their dilemmas, particularly Callum, a cold, emotionless loner who knows the perils of getting too close to an organisation. All in all, I thought this was a great book that kept me hooked from beginning to end and I will definitely be reading the sequel.

I liked the way Mackay spreads the action between the various player in the tale – my favourite chapters being those featuring Callum, Lewis and Lewis’s girlfriend, Zara as they provide additional information on each other’s characters and the background to this situation. Even though the plot’s pretty simple, there’s a lot of tension here both from the build up and the aftermath and I enjoyed the politics at play between the different criminal organisations and the way that each character seeks to use other people for their own ends. Although the book works as a stand-alone story, there’s still a lot of potential through the wider storyline of the threat to Jamieson’s organisation for the wider trilogy, which I will definitely be checking out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual writing style for a gangster novel, 11 Dec. 2012
By 
Thrud Fan (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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The story is set in the Glasgow underworld, it's the story of a request for a contract killing and it's consequences.

The writing style is a bit unusual and I haven't read anything in this style before, it's a pared down sort of story telling which fits the tone and style of the book. There's not much padding. If you enjoy stories that spend pages and pages describing what characters look like and lavish descriptions of locations you will not find them here.
The book is very character driven and does bounce from one character to another which I thought would be confusing but found I could follow the story easily. One thing I liked was that although it is set in Scotland the author stayed away from using huge amounts of local dialect which I always struggle to read.

Despite being a story of gangsters and hit men there is surprising little violence in the book and what is there is written in quite a dispassionate way, for example when a hit is done there is no gory description it's all played down.

I found all the main characters unlikable to some degree but both mob and police for me seemed very well written. Despite not liking the main protagonists I got an ambivalent feeling to the main character, very similar to Day of the Jackal.
I did enjoy reading this book the style for me was fresh and the story moves along briskly.

The book is apparently the first in a trilogy and although the main story plot finished to a reasonable conclusion there were lots of plot threads left open for the next books to pick up on.

I will be getting the next one as for me this story is worth following.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Child-influenced prose style. Like this. Terse. Fun., 5 Feb. 2013
By 
Philtrum (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
This is the first in a planned trilogy of books set in the Glasgow criminal underworld and based on a freelance hitman. In this first book he is employed to kill the titular Lewis Winter, a drug dealer near the bottom of the totem pole.

The story itself was interesting enough. More interesting was the writing style and tone. Mackay has clearly read a few Lee Child books, noted the use of non-grammatical sentences, and turned it up to eleven or twelve. Like this. But more so.

The tone is detached and clinical. Mackay leads us through the thought processes of all the characters involved. No one makes any judgements, least of all Mackay.

Arguably it's all a little too cold and clinical, and it's difficult to actually care about any of the characters, but the story romps along, holding the interest, and the style is refreshing and amusing.

I am planning to read the remaining books in the trilogy when they are published.

8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars trials and tribulations of a hitman for hire, 2 Nov. 2013
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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I've read a number of positive reviews of The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter so I thought I'd give it a go. The story focuses on MacLean's life as a hitman, setting out his observations as to what makes a successful career, his worries about being drawn into an organisation rather than operating as a freelance, and the lead up and aftermath of killing Lewis Winter. The tale has its moments and the almost documentary style narrative is an interesting approach. However, sometimes a book clicks for a reader and other times it doesn't and I never really warmed to the story. Mackay's writing voice felt too detached, there was no sense of place and story could have been happening anywhere, and I never built an emotional connection to the characters or the tale. As a consequence, although the book has it merits it unfortunately left me a little cold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Hard-hitting Scottish Crime Novel, 16 Nov. 2013
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Scotland has punched well above its weight for years when it comes to supplying us with fine, gritty crime writers. I'm not going to name them - those of you interested in this book will surely have heard of them all before. And to that list of luminaries, you can add the name of Malcolm Mackay.

The book is short, sharp and provides plenty of shocks - three essential components of the Tartan Noir style. But Mr Mackay is obviously familiar with a lot of American crime fiction too, because he's thrown a huge spoonfull of their edginess into the mix. His writing voice is laconic, restrained even, and this is a superior debut. Books two and three in the trilogy are already on my Amazon 'Wish List'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very promising first act..., 1 Dec. 2013
By 
Mark Philpott "marco772" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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I requested a review copy of this after it won the ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read Award to see what the fuss was about.

As is detailed elsewhere this is a tale, the first of a trilogy, about a young hitman named Calum who is contracted to take out a hit on the titular Lewis Winter and the repercussions of this violent act.
The novel is immensely readable and the prose is pared down to give it a sparse, no nonsense noir style. I rather liked this approach for this type of story. More unusual is that it's all told in the present tense through various characters viewpoints. Very few books are written in present tense but I quickly got used to the style and rather liked it.

However, this stylistic strength also proves the novel's biggest weakness in that it's not an especially useful style for fleshing out and drawing characters and, as a result, most are lightly sketched with the impression that they will be returned to in the next two books for embellishment. Even if that is true it does make it hard to care too much about the characters. The investigating officers are drawn in particularly broad strokes with the determined, dogged, "good" one and the more Machiavellian corrupt one. Also, as there are a fair number of characters of similar ilk, I found myself sometimes losing track of who was who within the criminal hierarchy.

A lot of people have bemoaned the lack of a sense of place but I have no problem with this. I find too much geographical description often somewhat annoying and intrusive (I know more about Brighton than I really feel I need to from reading Peter James' Roy Grace books, for example). I can be nice to feel the atmosphere of a place if done well, but, in this case, I'm quite happy to plough on with the story.

Or I was. Until it ended. Somewhat abruptly.

As I approached the end I began to suspect that there would be no tying up of loose ends or conclusions in general to this tale. I was quite right too. Hopefully taken as a whole, the trilogy will provide all that. As a stand alone novel this doesn't really work for those reasons and I can quite imagine some readers feeling frustrated by this.

Personally I saw it coming (or saw it not coming) and liked the writing enough to give the second one a go. Also, it's a nice fast read which I liked. There are at least two characters whose fates I'm curious enough about to read on!

So, overall, a strong début which, by itself, is almost more of a character study of a hitman than anything that feels like a full novel. As I say though, read as a trilogy, it could all be quite epic. Only time, and reading the next one at least, will tell!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A promising start to the trilogy., 19 Sept. 2013
By 
Glasgow Dreamer (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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I was initially attracted to this novel as it was set in Glasgow, where I live, but really this could have been set anywhere; Glasgow was rarely, if ever, identifiable in this piece of writing.

The story concerns Calum Maclean, a freelance hitman tasked with killing a relatively minor player in the local drugs trade. The novel covers Maclean's selection for the job, his preparation, the execution itself, and the aftermath and its effects on a number of disparate but loosely-connected characters.

It rattles on at a fair rate, and is well written; short, to the point and direct. I finished the book in one sitting, and I would imagine most would do so, as it was quite easy to become quite involved with the tale.

The book has a couple of nagging shortcomings. The names are very bland; everyone seemed to be very Scottish; in the Glasgow drugs and gangster underworld that is no longer the case. I would have expected more Eastern European or Asian names to appear in a genuine story of this nature.

The biggest flaw however, concerns one of the most important incidents in the book. (Slight spoiler alert) At one point, a character knows that he is likely to be killed that night, yet still goes to bed as usual, and falls asleep without trouble, only foiling his attacker after coincidentally getting up for a drink of water at the precise moment the attacker chose to strike. The nonchalance of the character going to bed as usual, and the coincidental timing of his night-time thirst were the only two instances in the book where I felt credibility was stretched beyond breaking point.

It's no Pulitzer Prize winner, but it's a decent first attempt, and suggests that the second and third parts of the trilogy should be worth reading.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting thriller from an original viewpoint, 19 Dec. 2012
By 
Gs-trentham - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter is the first novel in a trilogy - the remaining parts to follow in July 2013 and January 2014. It will be interesting to see whether the author can sustain the challenge he has set himself.

The novel is written entirely in the present tense, which is not the easiest task for the author and can be tiresome for the reader; it works here but one can only hope it will not become a handicap before the next two books are done. It also has to be said that this first volume has no likeable characters. No reason why a story shouldn't portray life among criminals and hard-nosed - sometimes corrupt - policemen, but some readers like to identify with someone in a book.

Those caveats registered, this is still a four-star review. The plotting is clever and watertight; it could be argued that two strands are not finally tied off, but the implications of what will follow are clearly established. And, despite the unsavoury nature of most of the characters who inhabit this Glaswegian underworld, the reader is engaged by them. Turning the pages is easy. Judgement may be reserved on Malcolm Mackay but this is an interesting beginning.
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The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) by Malcolm Mackay (Hardcover - 17 Jan. 2013)
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