Kenny O'Neill is a man who doesn't have his troubles to seek. He's a successful Glasgow "businessman" who has always known a good deal when he has seen one and who has no qualms operating either within the limits of the law or beyond them. He's a man who knows where he stands in society and approaches the world with a confidence born of his proven ability to make those around him bend to his will: by persuasion, or by coercion if the need arises.
But the wheels are coming off Kenny's world. The high-class call girl he thinks of as his girlfriend is viciously attacked and his efforts to extract revenge are thwarted by her refusal to tell him who did it. And he has antagonised a powerful and potentially important business contact. Meanwhile, family conflicts that have been bubbling away beneath, and sometimes above, the surface are coming to a head. Why did his mother commit suicide when Kenny was a boy? Why did his father disappear from his life immediately afterwards? Why does the uncle who helped bring him up hate him so much? And why has his aunt been keeping important secrets from him for years?
"Beyond the Rage" by Michael J Malone is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It is also quite a rare beast, a crime novel that has a criminal as its central character. We follow Kenny's efforts to get to the bottom of why his life has taken such an unexpected turn for the worse, and we also see glimpses of the story through the eyes of his adversary: the hired thug who is pursuing his employer's decades-long quest for revenge. The question is therefore not so much "who did it", but rather, "who is behind it". Meanwhile we watch helplessly as Kenny is drawn ever more deeply into a web of deceit he can himself only glimpse in a very fragmentary way. The characters are nicely drawn and very credible and the action moves around Glasgow, and beyond it, at a steadily increasing pace as events from the past catch up with the present. The climax is both unpredictable and well worth waiting for and the conclusion has a nicely ambivalent edge that suits Kenny's character perfectly.