Malcolm Mackay- The Sudden Arrival of Violence (Glasgow Trilogy 3)

He’s touching the front of his coat, feeling the shape of the gun. Should have got rid of it. On any other night, any other job, he would. This isn’t any other job. This, he intends, will be his last . . . It begins with two deaths: a money-man and a grass. Deaths that offer a unique opportunity to a man like Calum MacLean. A man who has finally had enough of killing. Meanwhile two of Glasgow’s biggest criminal organisations are at quiet, deadly war with one another. And as Detective Michael Fisher knows, the biggest – and bloodiest – manoeuvres are yet to come . . .

Have delayed writing a review of this one, as I am in a state of denial that this marvellous trilogy has reached its final curtain. Having been bowled over by the fist two instalments, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter and How A Gunman says Goodbye (and bored everyone interminably with how good they are) Malcolm Mackay finishes his Glasgow Trilogy with a bang and not a whimper…

Redolent of the spare, gritty prose that Mackay has now gained a reputation for, and reminiscent of that colossus of Scottish crime fiction, William McIlvanney, The Sudden Arrival of Violence continues to pull no punches in its depiction of the Glasgow underworld and for many of the major characters this is the final reckoning with scores to be settled once and for all. Calum MacLean, a gunman for hire wants out, being heartily sickened with not only the elements of his last job for crime boss Peter Jamieson, but having become increasingly disillusioned with his choice of career, and life within the criminal fraternity. Jamieson himself has reached his boiling point in his determination to cement his position as the true overlord of criminal control in Glasgow, wanting to stamp out his challengers once and for all. Likewise, DI Michael Fisher, frustrated in his pursuit of Jamieson and his cohorts, is a man on a mission to bring them to justice by any means necessary. As all three men begin on their paths of action and try to extinguish the threats to their ultimate aims, Mackay ramps up the tension, neatly intertwining their three quests into a sublime and flowing narrative, manipulating the reader’s empathy, particularly in the case of Calum, with a true heart-wrenching episode along the way, that by its difference to the normal stone-cold narrative of these books, makes for a shocking impact on the reader. Such is Mackay’s skill at manipulation that for me certainly Calum is an inordinately sympathetic character, presented in such a way that it becomes easy to overlook his clinical and murderous career, and really empathize with his wish to escape, despite the personal cost that arises…

Although this could be read in isolation (and includes a handy list of characters) I would wholeheartedly implore you to read the trilogy in its entirety, to really get a feel for Mackay’s spare prose and to appreciate the nuances of the relationships between the characters. As I have said in my previous reviews of the series, there is a cold, dispassionate tone throughout, not only in relation to the violence of the events presented, but also in the emotional reactions of the characters themselves that is both alienating yet inclusive to the reader’s experience. The writing is seemingly straightforward, but almost witholds as much as it reveals. It is extremely rare to find a trilogy where all three books warrant a 5 star rating, but delighted to say that Mackay achieves this admirably. A great series with a suitably compelling ending. I wonder what’s next….

Read other reviews of A Sudden Arrival of Violence at:



Raven reviews:

Malcolm Mackay- The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (Glasgow Trilogy 1).

Malcolm Mackay- How A Gunman Says Goodbye (Glasgow Trilogy 2).

 (With thanks to Macmillan for the ARC)


  1. Oh God, not another must-read Glasgow trilogy… have just embarked upon the Laidlaw trilogy. Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time up in Scotland this year…

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