Book Review: A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone

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Genre: Psychological Thriller

I must admit I’m becoming a bit weary of psychological thrillers – especially ones with ‘girl’ in the title. But reading A Suitable Lie restored my hope that not all contemporary fiction in the thriller genre has become a bit of a cliché, written to a now exhausted formula.

There are no stereotypes in this highly original page turner. Malone avoids anything remotely formulaic in this novel and he keeps it real. The writing is pacy and economical. There’s nothing gratuitous. If anything it’s all quite understated and is more effective for that.

Yes, at first main character, Andy Boyd seems just an ordinary bloke doing ordinary bloke type stuff, but very soon the reader discovers he’s not so ordinary. He’s suffered a terrible bereavement – the loss of his wife in childbirth – and now he’s a single parent to his young son. But then he meets and falls for Anna. It all goes well at the start. He’s happy again. But it’s all too good to be true.

Things go terribly wrong. Happiness changes to doubt, fear and jeopardy along with shame and guilt. There are shocking revelations.

But amongst the bleakness and blackness there’s humour too and moments of touching humanity.

The main characters are very well drawn but so too are the supporting cast. There’s an authenticity to the relationships Andy has with his friends and family, especially his mother.

All in all this is a thrilling but also satisfying read.

Type of read: Disturbing rather than terrifying. One sitting is a real possibility so clear the diary.

Back Cover Blurb:

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s top crime writers.

A Suitable Lie is published by Orenda Books and is available as a paperback, and as an ebook.

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.