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Book Nook: Every Night I Dream of Hell, by Malcolm Mackay

Malcolm Mackay lives on a remote island in Scotland. The crime rate where he lives in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis is almost non-existent. Most of the crimes that do occur in the area have taken place exclusively in Mackay's imagination. He writes crime novels and they are populated by criminals who are running rampant in the Scottish city of Glasgow. In Mackay's novels the police make an occasional appearance but they usually are not doing that much to prevent crime. In some instances they are permitting some bad things to happen. Looking the other way. Getting paid off. Corrupt cops.


In Mackay's latest effort "Every Night I Dream of Hell" the central character among his typically ensemble cast of reprobates, criminal masterminds and thugs is a mob enforcer named Nate Colgan. He has been a peripheral figure in previous books. In this one he's front and center and we actually know what he is thinking because the author has written Nate in the first person. Before this book he had never written a first person character in his novels.

Nate's a seriously bad dude, he's professional muscle, but he does have his standards. As the book begins we understand that while Nate can administer a nearly lethal beating with little remorse he has never killed anybody.

He's got some inner demons. And some outer ones. He doesn't sleep very well. The title of the book is a reference to his insomnia. The beauty of Mackay's creation is that even though Nate is a seriously nasty character we can actually sympathize with him. Some readers might even like him!

In his quiet way Malcolm Mackay is establishing himself as a literary force in what is known as "tartan noir." His stories can hit you with the potency and force of a perfectly executed punch to the nose from Nate Colgan. Wham!

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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