Friday, July 3, 2015
Review: BEYOND THE RAGE by Michael J Malone
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
Glaswegian author Michael J. Malone's prose is onyx; unique and glittering in its darkness. While journalism is a common background for crime writers, Malone has 200 published poems to his name, and that rare talent for language bleeds into his storytelling in this noir-ish tale.
Kenny O'Neill is both hero and villain; a likeable criminal at the core of this exquisite thriller. A Glaswegian gangster capable of brutality, but with a degree of heart and (sort-of) moral compass, whose rage powers a fascinating thrill-ride into the underbelly of Scotland.
Kenny has every right to be angry. His father abandoned him after his mother's suicide, yet is now reaching out years later, while at the same time his girlfriend - a high-class hooker - has been viciously attacked. Balancing white knight and black hat, Kenny is driven to try to solve the mysteries of the past and the present, quick-stepping through a minefield of dangers as he seeks answers, and vengeance.
Malone does a tremendous job at crafting a novel with a dark heart, yet peppered with moments of humour and plenty of things that can make readers grin, even laugh. Kenny is Tony Soprano-esque, in that he's a bad guy, but also incredibly fascinating, layered, and you just can't help but root for him on his quest. There's an intriguing cast of characters that orbit around Kenny's life too, from the high to the low in Glaswegian society, wannabe tough-guys to aging mentors and dangerous monied men. Malone infuses them all with some nuance - there are no cardboard cut-outs or caricatures here. People want things, for very human reasons.
BEYOND THE RAGE has a twisting plotline that will thrill crime fans, keeping the reader guessing as events unfold, while delivering depth of character and stylish prose that elevates it to the higher echelons of the genre. Just a damned good story. Dark, absorbing, filled with ferocity and feeling.
Delightful seems a bizarre word to use for such a noir tale, full of unsympathetic people, but delighted I was as I was carried along by Malone's craftsmanship, the words crackling with intensity, pages filled with spark.
A violent and visceral read from a master storyteller. Highly recommended.