My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 249
Blurb from the back cover
Tam suffers from panic attacks avoiding potential triggers like attractive women and confrontations. After an approach from a local widower he is introduced to a technique turning him from zero to hero. Tam's life is transformed with men fearing him and women lusting after him - but has he made a pact with the devil?
Meet Tam, our main character, a young lad from a Glasgow scheme with a big problem: panic attacks, shy and no self confidence. Not exactly the qualities you need to survive the life in a scheme or get the girl of your dreams. After an embarrassing and violent attack, help comes in the form of Pat, an older bloke from the estates who knows a thing or two about surviving Glasgow. Soon he is teaching his young protege some techniques that totally changes his life. All is great in the beginning but soon Tam finds himself in deeper than he imagined and with life changing consequences.
I had never heard of this author but I am always keen to give everyone a go, especially when the story takes place in a city I know. Tam is a character that goes through quite a transformation, however the reader gets to follow him through it in a way that I believe many could sympathize with, if you lived in a scheme at any point. I went through phases of rooting for him, to disliking him and back again. Pat is a character, love him or hate him he definitely brings the story, and the murky dark happenings to life. There are some other key characters, however one who isn't a huge part but I loved his name and is worthy of mention is Wan Brick.
The story itself is quite violent in parts, certainly graphic and conjures quite the picture in your head, like a movie I could visualize it playing out. I think it would make for a great movie, which according to MacNicol's website it is in the pipelines.
There is quite a few layers to this story, it isn't just violence, sex and drugs although to be fair there is all of that in the mix so be warned. However it is also a story of personal growth, consequences, love, lust, friendship, betrayal and honor to name but a few.
The story does have quite a bit of Glaswegian patter and dialogue when the characters are conversing which some non Scots may find hard to follow. Phrases, which added to my enjoyment to be fair, as it was like days of old or visiting old friends. Weesht meaning be quiet, Awright - Ok? and Hawnle - handle - look after yourself. I think an excerpt at the back with translation may be a good idea for future publishing would help for the non Scottish readers.
The chapters were fairly short in between, which if your a follower of my reviews you know I love. Especially when you don't have a lot of time to read as your studying or just busy in general so not getting a lot of time to read, this helped me fly through the book. I really enjoyed this book, there are a few twists that I didn't see coming, one of which actually had me exclaim, was so glad I wasn't on public transport! A really good debut novel, I hope that there may be another in the works on the early life of Pat, I would love to read that. Enjoyable, good paced, hooks you in and evokes quit a few emotions, 5/5 for me this time and I would certainly read this author again. Thanks so much to Mark for introducing me to his work, this book is available to buy in paperback for £7.99 from his website www.markmacnicol.com and the ebook is, at time of posting £0.99 you can also follow him on twitter @markmacnicol