Like all good "noir" fiction, McKinty provides us with a charismatic central character - here in the form of Killian. Of Pavee traveller, Irish stock (otherwise known as `tinkers') he has made his name as an enforcer of other people's laws, collecting debts and finding missing people. He's tough and capable of violence, but generally gets his man by avoiding force where possible. A sort of hit man with a conscience. However, when the book kicks off he has semi-retired, but his decision to invest his ill gotten gains in property has fallen foul of the property crash, so when a job comes up offering a cool half million for simply finding the ex-wife and daughters of budget airline magnate Richard Coulter, it's not one he can easily turn down. Killian knows this sounds too good to be that simple. And, of course, he's right.
Fans of McKinty's previous books may recognise the source of the lead for this work, a certain Michael Forsythe, star of McKinty's "Dead" trilogy. But this is Killian's book and his sometime mentor Forsythe merely lurks in the background of the story. If you haven't encountered his former adventures, you won't be disadvantaged in the least.
We get a fair amount of initial jet setting. We first meet Killian in the USA on St Patrick's day musing on the "Oirish" interpretations of his native land, but when the call comes from the budget airline CEO, Killian jets off to Macau to pick up the job. We also get a brief, and violent, trip to Mexico as another character is introduced but to reveal more about that would be to spoil the plot development. But mostly, the book is set in present day Northern Ireland.
For this genre of fiction to work best, it needs a strong dose of humour and McKinty positively excels in this regard, particularly early on. The whole Irishman in New York rant at the beginning is amusing and his description of Boston's Logan airport as "looking like an airport failing an audition for the part of Airport" is characteristic of the ability of McKinty to use humour with the efficiency that a surgeon uses a scalpel, to not only get a laugh but to encapsulate an image in a few words.
McKinty's writing style is full of pathos. Lots of short sentences and dialogue help to speed through the plot and create a sense of urgency. One unfortunate side effect of this is that it does rather highlight a number of editorial slips and typos, which is a shame.
There's more than just a pacy plot here though. McKinty offers some pretty scathing views on the recent history of the Northern Irish economy and a more positive insight into "The Life" of the travellers than is normally found.
Perhaps towards the end one or two people give up rather too much information to Killian rather too easily, and at times McKinty seems to get trapped into an obsession with certain words, notably `halyards' or the noise they make which seem to irritate Killian at a number of random locations. He's also somewhat obsessed at telling us you can see Scotland from the Northern Irish coast (though whenever I've tried, all I saw was rain!). However, all is forgiven in the terrific cliff-hanging epilogue where Michael Forsythe finally makes an appearance.
It's a very enjoyable read and one that will doubtless have you seeking out more of this author's work. You won't be disappointed.