I was in the right place at the right time (actually my lounge, one afternoon, perusing Twitter) when Mantle (Pan Macmillan) Senior Editor, Sophie Orme tweeted that she had some uncorrected book proofs of Malcolm Mackay’s new book to give away. Not one to pass a freebie, I responded post haste.
Of course I was aware of Mackay (who hasn’t heard of fantastically titled The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter?), but this is the first time I’d read any of his work. The book isn’t your typical crime fiction – yes, there’s death, but we know the culprit each time, and there’s nobody trying to solve the crime – not as part of the story, anyway. It’s written in third person, but in what seems to be quite a different style. And did those things work for me? Too bloody right, they did! I loved the book, the story, and the glimpse into the sordid lives of the characters involved.
The book is set in Glasgow (according to the blurb on the back of the book – but it could be anywhere) and follows the fortunes of two young chancers, Oliver Peterkinney and Alex Glass as they try to navigate their way through the dark and dangerous world of loan sharking and money collecting. At the same time, the three people at the top of the business are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game to see who can dominate this aspect of the criminal underworld.
The book realistically portrays the darker side of money lending, and the people who are trapped in a downward spiral of owing money that they will never be able to repay. This book isn’t overloaded with blood and gore, and is all the better for that. As I mentioned earlier, this is my first read of Malcolm Mackay, but it certainly won’t be the last.