Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
Original and gripping
on 6 January 2013
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.