All families have secrets. Some are more deadly than others.
In Michael J. Malone’s new book Beyond the Rage (Contraband, 2015), we find out more about Kenny O’Neill, the decidedly dodgy best friend of DI Ray McBain in both Blood Tears and A Taste for Malice.
McBain makes an appearance here, but it’s little more than a cameo as the author steps away from the police procedural into the dark alleys of Noirville.
And it’s a satisfying, often violent tale of a man with his own sense of honour trying to make sense of events in his past.
The plot moves like a hot knife through butter, greased by Malone’s impeccable prose style. Kenny’s dad abandoned him as a child following his mother’s suicide, leaving him to be brought up by an aunt and uncle. But his aunt never accepted her sister’s death as suicide – and now his father seems to be reaching out from wherever he was hiding. He’s built a new life, a new family. But there’s been trouble in his past, trouble ahead – and he fears for his life.
And when his prostitute girlfriend is badly beaten, Kenny finds himself sucked into a world of violence and long-held secrets. The violence and pain he can deal with, but uncovering secrets can be painful.
Malone brings Glasgow and O’Neill’s twilight world brilliantly to life in this sharp thriller. He doesn’t stint on the action nor the humour, and introduces a compelling villain in Mason Budge, a killer with a fondness for inflicting agony.
The author promises more from DI Ray McBain. Let’s hope he also gives us more of Kenny O’Neill in the future.
About the reviewer: DOUGLAS SKELTON is the author of 11 books on Scottish crime and history. His crime novels, the Davie McCall series, are published by Luath Press. Book III, Devil’s Knock, is due in 2015.