"...a machete," Phil was saying. "Sliced off the guy's arse cheeks." He laughed. "I know. You're thinking that's pretty funny. No? Anyway, you can't ever walk again. No arse cheeks, no walking muscles. You know that? Hard to find a pair of trousers that fit, too."
SAVAGE NIGHT is the third Allan Guthrie book I've read and there's this thing about him, where you read him and think you know where he's going and you're almost right. His stories go along familiar paths, but then turn into uncharted territory about half-way in. SAVAGE NIGHT is no different, in terms of unpredictability. For a while, Guthrie keeps the highway in sight. It's a gangster story (hah! I'm sure you're not surprised). But it's also a family story and when rivalries turn into a blood feud, things turn uglier, darker and even gorier. The gangster aspect of SAVAGE NIGHT eventually goes out the window and turns into this crazy Shakespearean drama. Only Allan Guthrie can pull this off and keep his story on tracks. I liked Guthrie's fiction before, but not consider me a fan. This was really cool.
The story structure is a bit wild, so you mind be lost at first, but keep going. There's a drama happening in the first pages, somebody gets killed but it's not the turning stone of the story. Then Guthrie goes back and introduces you two families. The Savages, the local mobsters. The brothers Tommy and Phil have an iron grip on their neighborhood or so it would seem. Then the Parks are introduced also. Another family with a different set of issues. Yet, their respective paths will cross and it will not be pretty. I don't want to spoil too much of it, because the plotting of this is brilliant, but the Savages' ego get in the way and they end up messing with Mr. Park. His vengeance will be terrible, like a hurricane. And like the said hurricane, it will cause way much more damage than anybody expected.
There is something that for me, as a reader, makes of breaks a crime novel. I call that the Whacko Factor. Things have to get out of hand. A well-plotted crime and witty characters are fun to ready about, but when thing go wrong and the character lose control of what they're doing, it gets exponentially interesting. And believe me, the Whacko Factor is strong with this one. SAVAGE NIGHT reads like Allan Guthrie had outline a completely different story and then the characters just took over and started wreaking havoc on the pages of his novel. It's a lot of fun to read. I loved how Guthrie took no prisoners in this one. There is a character to root for, the Park father, Andy. But he's going down the same road than the others. Because blood taints everything and everybody.
It was as if the guy wanted a kicking. Park askied, "You know why I was in prison?" McCracken shook his head. "Let me guess."
He pretended to think. "Paedophilia?"
"Fireraising," Park said.
If you're the type of person who digs Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie or Martin Scorcese and are looking for new thrills, Allan Guthrie is cut out for you. SAVAGE NIGHT will keep you on your toes during the day and crawl into your nightmares at night. It's spectacular, bloody and yet it's so damn human. As enjoyable as it is as a crime novel, Guthrie is drawing such a gloomy portrait of the dangers of the criminal world, it's going to keep you scared to step on the wrong side of the law. Really, sometimes I feel a distance when reading British authors, but not in this case. SAVAGE NIGHT is immediate and in-your-face. Summer is coming, the weather is getting better, go outside with your Kindle and read this book. It's dark and visceral, but it's also a lot of fun.
I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.