NB This post first appeared as part of the blog tour for ‘Family’ via Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.
When gangster Luke Glass gets out of prison after a seven-year stretch, he has no intention of going back. The only way to avoid trouble is to get out of the family business, but with Luke’s hot-headed brother Danny running things, that might not be so easy. As it happens, Luke isn’t the only one who wants out, but sister Nina has her own problems to deal with. After a rival gang’s raid on the family pub fails to finish off the brothers, Danny wants revenge and he’s determined to keep Luke by his side.
Having read several of Owen Mullen’s books, I thought I knew what to expect with this one, but even though it’s still very much a crime novel, ‘Family’ is a whole new bag of tricks for the Big Mannie of Scottish Noir. Set in a South London gangland that’s all-too familiar, thanks to the likes of the Kray twins et al, Mr Mullen manages to create a crime empire that’s realistic and believable without being cliched or derivative. Having said that, and allowing that ‘Family’ is a cracking good read, my general impression is that the writing isn’t quite as sharp as I’ve come to expect from this author. Also, the alternating first-person/all-seeing-narrator pov always irritates me, though I can see why he’s done it this way.
All niggles aside, the characters are a fascinating lot and the twisty-turny plot kept me guessing about which side (and which brother) would come out on top. I loved the on-going rivalry between Luke and Danny and the continually shifting goalposts as the story went off in different directions. There were also a few unexpected events along the way which include some pretty graphic scenes that might shock readers of a gentler disposition. The denouement took me by surprise, too, though it made perfect sense.
One of these days Owen Mullen might fall off the literary wagon and turn out a pile of pish that isn’t worthy of his name. Thankfully, that day is only one possible future, and the way he’s going, it won’t ever come to pass. ‘Family’ is yet another reason to look forward to Mr Mullen’s next offering with relish. In the meantime, this is a book to be proud of and one that lovers of crime fiction will delight in for years to come.
When he was ten years old, Owen Mullen won a primary schools short story competition and didn’t write another word for four decades. One morning he announced he was going to write a book. He did. Since then he has written seven. Owen was born in Coatbridge, a few miles from Glasgow, where the Charlie Cameron stories take place, and where he ran a successful design and marketing business. A late developer, he has a Masters degree from Strathclyde University which he got in his forties. In his earlier life he lived in London and worked as a musician and session singer. People tell him he enjoyed himself and he has no reason to doubt them. The journey from rocker to writer has been a fascinating experience and the similarities between the music and book industries, never cease to amaze him. His passions are travel, food and Arsenal Football Club. A gregarious recluse, he now splits his time between Scotland and the island of Crete, along with his wife, Christine.