The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Mulholland: Little, Brown. Apr. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780316337304. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780316337281. M
OrangeReviewStarAlready a hit in Britain, this first installment in Mackay's "Glasgow Trilogy"—Mulholland is publishing the second and third volumes, How a Gunman Says Goodbye and The Sudden Arrival of Violence, simultaneously—is a welcome, hard-hitting addition to the tartan noir genre. In the violent criminal underworld of Glasgow, it's imperative to know your place and stay there. Otherwise you might find yourself on the wrong side of a man like Calum MacLean. A freelance killer of sorts, he's currently working for the powerful Peter Jamieson, tasked with taking out the titular Lewis Winter, a small-time drug dealer who's usurping Jamieson's turf. Unlike a typical whodunit, the story features a killer whose identity is never in question. But Mackay ratchets up the suspense by introducing a wide cast of characters, from the cool, detached MacLean and the surprisingly sympathetic Winter trying to please his gold digger girlfriend to the cops, both straight and dirty, tasked with investigating the murder.
VERDICT To loosely paraphrase Mackay (and Raymond Chandler), it's easy to write a crime novel; it's hard to write a crime novel well. And this unrelenting look at the grimy underbelly of Glasgow's criminal underworld does it very well. [See Prepub Alert, 11/1/14.]

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