This is the first novel from young Irish writer Kevin Power. It is a very studied, and fascinating study into the Dublin elite, into the rarefied world of rugby clubs, private schools, the old boys network, and the feeling of invincibility that young people from such backgrounds possess.
The story concerns the death of one of their own, the university student Conor Harris, who is beaten to a pulp outside a Dublin nightclub one barmy August evening. The shock it however, that it is three of his own friends who do the beating, or in this case, the kicking in the head. Power tells the story through the eyes of a narrator, who has observed the goings on of the group at a distance for some time, and who gradually pieces together in his mind the possible reasons and causes of this tragedy.
Alongside the explanation of the friendships, often built on nothing more than mutual backslapping and adoration of the trappings of their wealth, there is a beautiful young woman entangled in the tragedy. Laura Haines was the girlfriend of Conor, but is now going out with Richard Culhane, one of the most beautiful creatures on the earth, a fact that he is well aware of. Culhane is one of the three students who are involved in the fracas that results in Conor's death, some suspect that is was he who delivered the final fatal kick to the head. And Richard saw Laura talking to Laura shortly before the incident.
The story also shows us how the families of all the students are affected by the tragedy. They are affected so profoundly that their lives will never be the same again. The things which they took for granted have been snatched away with three kicks to the head.
This is much more than a simple love rivalry. Power has fantastic powers of observational writing. He lets us into a world that we are not part of. The writing is taut, and very, very addictive. This is a great first novel from a talented young author that is sure to become a book club favourite.