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Review: The Night the Rich Men Burned by Malcolm Mackay

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger celebrates the very best of the thriller genre.

Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that “one simply has to turn the pages” – and this is one of the main characteristics that the judges will be looking for when they pick their winner. Seven titles have been shortlisted for the award this year, and we’ll be looking at each one in turn with the help of book bloggers and reviewers.

Up next is Rhiannon Griffiths with her thoughts on The Night the Rich Men Burned by Malcolm Mackay.

Over to Rhiannon:

The Night the Rich Men Burned is the first standalone novel by Malcolm Mackay, author of the Glasgow trilogy.

The Night the Rich Men Burned by Malcolm MackayThe story revolves around two friends – Alex Glass and Oliver Peterkinney – who break into the dark underworld of crime in an attempt to find work. While one of them rises quickly up the ranks, the other falls prey to the industry’s addictive lifestyle and ever-spiralling debts.

This is a violent, gritty and realistic story about gang rivalry, as those at the top make deadly attempts to out-manoeuvre each other. Glass and Peterkinney, caught up in this war, find that their actions come back to haunt them and those they love the most.

If you’re not too daunted by the five-page-long character list at the beginning of the story, you’ll soon discover why this feature is so important: although the book is an action-packed thriller, the characters are the true focus. None of them are particularly nice – but Mackay allows readers to form their own judgements, and as the story progresses and the characters develop, so do our sympathies. It’s this study of character that gives the plot its authenticity: it’s completely believable and hooks you in easily. The writing itself is immediate and snappy with little embellishment, which adds to the sense that this is not a world to be glamorised or romanticised. It’s a distinctive style that could irritate some readers, but it’s perfect if you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers.”

Have you read The Night the Rich Men Burned? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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