The Scottish Movie by Paul Collis is a well-crafted revenge tale that even Shakespeare naysayers can enjoy. The novel begins with William Shakespeare’s creation of his play, MacBeth. We learn that the bard overheard the plot being described by another playwright at a pub and, wanting to really impress King James with his next piece, promptly goes home to write it. When the original creator finds out the Globe Theatre is performing his play, without his consent, he sets out to sabotage the performance. As it turns out, this story is just that, a story that a modern day author has penned. In a very similar turn of events, Harry Greenville discusses his novel with his friends at a diner, only to have an eavesdropping Hollywood executive steal the idea for his own. Once Harry discovers that someone has ripped off his idea and the movie is to begin production, he takes a page from his own novel and proceeds to sabotage the film.
This novel was a joy to read. The author used the lore surrounding the Scottish Play and turned it into an intriguing story with snappy dialogue, and hilarious actions scenes. Though the author completely has his own voice, the style of the story reminded me of a Christopher Moore novel. Through complete dumb luck and sheer brazenness, Harry Greenville is hired onto the film’s production staff and given an all-access pass to conduct his revenge on the story thief. Harry is the everyman stepped on by the corporate big shot, and you just can’t help but root for him.
The strongest part of the book was the author’s ability to seamlessly change between character points of view, sometimes multiple times in one scene. This allowed the reader to see the story angled from both main and supporting characters. Sometimes the switch was only for a few paragraphs; however, it added color to the story, almost like seeing a facial expression in a film that only the audience is supposed to see.
My only concern is that, as the characters use many modern references to Hollywood stars, movie titles, or general hat tips to modern culture, this novel may not age well. If the reader cannot place what actress a character is referring to when only using her first name, some of the dialogue charm could be lost. Even still, a good revenge story is always an indulgence, and this one does not disappoint.