Monday, December 2, 2013

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Malcolm Mackay
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Pan Macmillan, 2013

Calum MacLean is a freelancer hitman. He kills people for money, loves his job, but he tries not to work much. There is enough money, that you don’t know where to spend, and to attract attention is not necessary. Calum takes the order, makes a hit, lays low. He works for himself and not for the organization, and he himself makes his schedule.

When a permanent hitman for one of crime syndicates of Glasgow replaces his hip, he must be replaced immediately by someone. This substitution becomes Calum. He is hired to kill the small time dealer Lewis Winter. He is planning to make a move against the organization and now heneeds to be removed, and quickly. Calum does not ask too many questions, takes an order, watch the victim for a few days and makes the hit.

In the entire history of literature writers not too often made figure of assassin a protagonist, but if they did, it usually turned out well (it is not so for TV). Nobody outtopped Thomas Perry with his The Butcher's Boy (government assasins is a separate sub-genre). Nor did Malcolm Mackay and his decent debut.

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter grabs you not with twists and tickling of the nerves, but with the description of everyday life of a talented young killer. Chapter by chapter we deeps into the routine: how order is received, how the victim is being followed, how to select the killing method, how to buy a weapon, how to proceed after the hit. Mackay, like his protagonist, never missteps. Chronicle of life of a hitman turned out pretty convincing (as far as we, not related to the criminal world, can judge). The author does not misstep, does not allow children's errors, and it can even be assumed that Mackay spent some time in the company of a hitman.

The book presents no surprises, and the constant change of point of view slows the novel. In one sentence the author may be in the mind of one character and in the next in somebody’s else. It's only evidence of inexperience.

Second person narration also can not be explained. What did the author wanted to accomplished with these calls to his characters? Because of the second person the overall effect is reduced: in the book it’s not like real people live and act, but dolls, which Mackay talks to.

The novel is preceeded by the character list, with brief descriptions. Does the author so underestimate the reader believing that he, poor sod, will get lost in broad daylight? There is a limited number of characters her , and to get lost in them is not easy.

Good debut, with tasty detailes, but without a drive.

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