The Night The Rich Men Burned. Malcolm Mackay
This book falls into a new genre for me. It’s the first time I have read a book that’s written purely from gang member perspectives.
The book starts with two young friends, Oliver Peterkinney and Alex Glass, looking for work, any work. They live in a rundown area of Glasgow where legal work is hard to come by so they take on a money collection for a loan shark.
I won’t spoil the book by going into detail but the rest of the story revolves around their very different journeys in the gangland life. As one flourishes and moves through the ranks the other is outcast and becomes a victim.
Their lives intertwine throughout the book and it is interesting to see the way Mackay shows the scene through different eyes. The emotionally void morals of the loan sharks and the people who work for them; the fear and downward spiral of the people they prey on.
He describes the sparring leading to an inevitable war between different gangs. The way leaders manipulate situations using thugs but never get their own hands dirty. He describes the way money lenders sell their clients debts onto ruthless collectors, and shows some of the ways the debts are collected why alluding to others.
Inescapably the book leads to a tumultuous end as the gangs try to take over the city, with Peterkinney and Glass involved to the very end.
The story is fast paced, split into short chapters that had me thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter” It was never just one more I read the book in 2 nights.
This book is dark and gritty without being gruesome. It made me think about how easy it would be to become involved in the downward spiral of owing money to a loan shark.
Above all the book is very realistic. Those of us that have had to work in the aftermath of similar events that occur in this story will recognise how accurate this book is. Most people, I hope, will only visit the scenes on pages of books. If they do they will not find a more realistic account than this.
This is the first of Malcolm Mackay’s books that I have read. It won’t be the last