Cormac O’Keefe’s debut novel is not for everyone, it is
relentlessly bleak, revealing a side of Dublin that most acknowledge exists but
few beyond those who inhabit this world have anything other than the vaguest
awareness. As a security correspondent
for the Irish Examiner, O’Keefe has both professional and personal experience
of the gangland communities depicted, enabling him to produce a work of intense
authenticity that manages to horrify and yet compel the reader to forge onwards
through yet more mire, ever hopeful that things will work out while fearing the
The story centres on Jig, a ten year old boy, who lives for
football and his dog, having little else positive in his young life. His
brother and father are both heavily involved with gangland crime and his mother
cares for nothing beyond the alcohol upon which she depends. When ‘Ghost’ a gangland leader offers Jig
jobs carrying messages, he feels proud to be chosen to be part of something!
Things go downhill rapidly upon the death of a woman who
received one of Jig’s notes. Shay, his
football coach, realises Jig’s involvement and fearing for his future tries to help
him. But Shay has plenty on his own
plate, trapped by blackmail he struggles to keep his family safe in in a
volatile and hostile environment.
The third protagonist is Garda, Tara Crowe. She is determined to bring down the gangs
that terrorise not only the community but the officers who try to keep the
peace. As each attempt is foiled she
becomes convinced that the gangs have infiltrated the Gardai.
As the tension mounts the three threads pull closer together
in a story that races forward like a car chase, with none of the excitement,
just chest-clutching fear.
This is a brilliantly plotted and scripted novel, an
absolute must-read for lovers of realist noir.
Submitted by Lorna
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