It’s not every writer who can take you into the criminal underworld convincingly but Mike Carr can.
The Dundonian, after all, has been there and done it all during a life in which he’s been jailed for attempted murder as a teen, faced up to London’s Mafia and joined a mysterious Brotherhood in Istanbul.
Mike, who has also served in the Army and worked as a debt collector, bonds dealer and bodyguard, has now written his first book about his life.
“There are three or four major events in the book,” says Mike, “and one was a life-or-death situation. I was very fortunate not to have my life taken.
“A lot of other things happened after that but that was the incident that made me think about things. When it got to the stage that I could walk away from that life, I did walk away.
“There are situations in the book that most people would only see on the TV, and not in their own life. I’ve probably seen about four or five of those!
“I was on my knees with a gun pointed at the back of my head. One man’s decision there, about whether the trigger got pulled or not, determined what happened to me next.
“The year and a half period building up to that is what the book is about.”
Coming from the part of Dundee he did, Mike has come to realise macho jobs were always going to be his destiny.
“I grew up in Whitfield, which when I was growing up was a very tough area,” he says. “You needed to be tough yourself or you’d end up getting bullied.
“What that did for me was it made me grow up hating bullies. I wanted to use my situation to look after guys who did get bullied.
“That progressed into the macho stereotype, and I got sent away to approved school as a young man. Then it was straight into the Army.
“Later, it was just from being in gyms that I ended up meeting people, and I got the opportunity for bodyguarding.”
By the time he was rubbing shoulders with the Mafia in London, Mike was in pretty deep.
“It wasn’t so much I couldn’t get out of it,” he stresses. “I chose to be in it, and you get used to the trimmings, everything that comes with that lifestyle.
“All of that overshadows the risks. But as you get closer to some situations, you think: ‘No, I’m in too deep,’ but it’s too late to turn back.
“It is difficult to go back to an ordinary life but being able to sleep at night definitely makes it a more pleasant one. It was just sheer determination, that this wasn’t the path I wanted to go, that changed things for me.
“The fear of death wasn’t there for me but the fear of how it would affect those around me was what drove me.”
Mike is keen to stress that nothing he writes tries to glamorise the life he’s led, and he would love teens who might be at risk of following a similar path to be put off by what they read.
“It’s OK saying you had money and all the things that come with the money,” he points out, “and there is a bit in the book where I describe being introduced into the Brotherhood in Istanbul, where these guys booked an entire five-star hotel.
“It was glamorous, surrounded by hundreds of people who were there for me but I had never felt so lonely in my life.
“Now, I am a lot happier than when I lived in mansions with swimming pools.”
The obvious question, having turned his back on such a life, is does Mike have to worry about these mysterious people who he used to work with?
“No,” he says. “I paid my dues and did what I had to do. Of course, it’s a given that I have had to change names and locations.
“When I go to bed now, I can switch the light off and go to sleep. Before, I would sit and make sure my back was to the wall and keep watching the door.
“I have done things I’ve regretted, but I’d never think of myself as a bad person.”
If his books make some young lad think twice before embarking on a life of crime, many people will agree with that.
What Doesn’t Kill You by Mike Carr is out now, available at www.whatdoesntkillyou.org or online from Waterstones at £9.99, ISBN No. 978-1-5272-3478-9.