The Magazine for Crime & Mystery




John Brady

Orion, £9.99

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Reviewed by Mike Herron

A young American tourist goes missing in the west of Ireland ("Maybe the locals ate him") but turns up in a car boot at Dublin airport, his recent travels having taken in an archeological dig in County Mayo, which might just turn out to be where civilisation started. His multi-millionaire dad flies in from the States with disturbing news about his son's violent habits just as a submerged car is found near the dig, itself containing the body of a National Museum curator …
Meanwhile, globally successful rock groups jet in and out of Dublin, everybody slags off everybody else's birthplace, and a local gangster's recent, violent death gets the rumour-factory treatment: it was a Garda-approved slaying, the whisper goes; rough justice picking up where the other kind fell short. All of this falling into Inspector Matt Minogue's lap while his superior's off on holiday in, where else, America. It's a well-loaded plot, then, and if it's a touch slow at times, its measured pace arises from care over detail, and an insistence that every character has a voice.
There's nobody left unintroduced here, and some of the walk-ons (like the Elvis-adoring baggage handler) seem to want to steal the book. But Minogue provides a centre of gravity, a character with series weight behind him (there are a number or previous novels); he's out of the humane, book-learning school of detectives, but this doesn't shield him from the violent consequences of different plot-lines colliding in an altogether satisfactory way. The writing here is first rate; a little elliptical at times, perhaps, forcing the reader to do some of the work, but that's how it should be. And the dialogue sparkles. "Here, look," a subordinate says when Minogue appears on TV. "You're baldier than I thought you were, er, boss." That "er" is brilliantly placed. Orion bravely refrain from comparing John Brady to Ian Rankin on the cover, but that's the league Brady's playing in: this is classy stuff-deeply Irish without touting for tourists-and could get to be habit-forming.

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