Book Review: Bad Samaritan by Michael J Malone

Bad Samaritan

Genre: Crime Fiction

This isn’t Malone’s first book, but it is the first one of his that I’ve read. I enjoyed it very much.

It’s a very dark story. There is some humour, but even the banter is dark.

The story is set in the Scottish city of Glasgow, some might say the perfect backdrop to so dark a tale, and it is told from multiple viewpoints and in both the present and past tenses. This could be a recipe for chaos, but it’s to Malone’s credit that he carries it off so well and doesn’t leave the reader confused. This is a writer you can trust.

There are two storylines – the solving of a present day murder and the playing out of a terrible plan on the part of a serial killer from the main character’s past. This double plotline requires skilful interplay and interweaving on the part of the author, and again this is done more than competently.

The main character is DI Ray McBain. Yes, he’s your classic flawed, maverick cop, but Malone brings originality to the stereotype. McBain isn’t always likeable, but the reader remains sympathetic to him. He’s had a troubled personal life, suffers from PTSD, one of his best friends is a criminal, and his career hasn’t been without its difficult times. His humanity and his vulnerability feel very real.

DI McBain is a great creation. The supporting cast are excellent too. All the characters are three-dimensional. They, too, feel authentic. The reader might think they know the type, when they encounter McBain’s colleague, or his lover, or his friend, but then that character will surprise you.

So to sum up: the perfect setting, complex characters, an unpredictable plot and all I can say about the ending for fear of spoilers is – awesome.

It’s also a very visual story and with its multiple scenes, points of view, linked storylines and great cast would make an excellent TV drama.

For me crime fiction works if it gives the reader more than just a police procedural, whodunit type of tale and avoids falling into the stereotype trap. Malone has more than achieved this.

Back Cover Blurb:

A Glasgow student is found dead in a city-centre alley, kickstarting a trail of brutality that drives DI Ray McBain to the very edge, staring into the abyss…The victim’s family and friends are all under suspicion, and McBain has to untangle a sordid web of lies, deceit, blackmail, infidelity and cyberstalking. And when Stigmata, a deranged serial killer from McBain’s tortured past, starts taking out new victims – with the suspects and McBain himself in his sights – the case gets even more treacherous. The pressure intensifies until McBain calls on Kenny O’Neill, his old underworld crony, to help watch his back. Will that be enough to stop the killing?

Type of read: Lights on, a generous measure of whisky to hand, and perhaps best not to be alone in the house.

Bad Samaritan is published by Saraband and is available in paperback and as an e-book.