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19 of 20 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 18 months ago by Sid Nuncius

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Unnecessary Short Sentences of Lewis Winter
The more and more I read. I find that it is often. Small things that make me start to dislike a book. Take `The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter' by Malcolm Mackay. It is a good book. Full of interesting characters. Who feel real. But why has Mackay insisted on so many short sentences? It can prove tiresome. Very tiresome. It means the book has pace. It rattles...
Published 14 months ago by Sam Tyler


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19 of 20 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
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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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 The Unnecessary Short Sentences of Lewis Winter, 1 May 2013
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The more and more I read. I find that it is often. Small things that make me start to dislike a book. Take `The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter' by Malcolm Mackay. It is a good book. Full of interesting characters. Who feel real. But why has Mackay insisted on so many short sentences? It can prove tiresome. Very tiresome. It means the book has pace. It rattles along nicely. But, you do start to feel a little ill after a while.

There is something to be said for a sentence that has a comma, or two (,,). Mackay has created a gritty and realistic feeling world of Glasgow gangsters. At the centre of the story is the seemingly unsympathetic Colum MacLean, a freelance killer. When he is hired to take out the unfortunate Lewis Winter, he finds himself a small part in a large play for power in the Glasgow underworld. Mackay sets up the murder of Lewis Winter in a methodical way as Colum stalks his victim and executes his plan as best as he can. At no point are you meant to like Colum, but you do start to feel for him as he is used as a pawn.

I really enjoyed the almost scientific depiction of the crime and the methodical style in which MacKay follows the investigators. The case goes off on a tangent, but it is an interesting one that feels like it could happen; police being attracted to an easy win, rather than the case they are meant to be looking at. There is no doubt that `Lewis Winter' is an interesting book that takes a fresh view of the crime genre. It is only the strange choice of MacKay to use ultra-short sentences that detracts from overall enjoyment of reading it.
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2 of 2 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 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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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 
G. M. Sinstadt - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The necassery /death of Lewis Winter, 20 Nov 2013
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It's OK but predictable and of a consequence I wouldn't go looking for the two follow-ups to this one. Not for me..
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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
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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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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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This review is from: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) (Paperback)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 Sep 2013
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It wasn't a bad read but I had higher hopes. In a novel about organised crime in Glasgow, I'd hoped to see some of Glasgow in it but it could have been set in any location with no references to the city or landmarks, which affected it's authenticity.

The short sentence staccato style has it's place as part of any novel but a full novel of short sharp sentences became wearing. I accept it's the author's style but it's somewhat limited.

The author's research into police procedure was unforgivably poor. You only need to have had limited dealings with the criminal justice system in Scotland to know that we don't arrest people on suspicion of anything, however they do in England. The Detective Inspector would also have had to drop several pay scales to complete the tasks he was given by the author.

I was initially drawn to the book after I heard a review of the 2nd book in the trilogy. I decided to start at the beginning. I think I'll leave it at that.
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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 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
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
(VINE VOICE)   
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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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The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (The Glasgow Trilogy) by Malcolm Mackay (Paperback - 6 Jun 2013)
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