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"How many degrees of separation? Never too many in this [rotten] town, that's for sure.",
This review is from: Winterland (Paperback)
In this powerhouse example of the very best Irish noir, Alan Glynn exposes the venality that sometimes drives politicians, builders, contractors, and power brokers to abandon any pretense of morality and act solely in their own best interests. Everyone has an "angle" here, even those who are supposedly on the side of "right," and violence is not only possible but likely whenever someone is threatened. Dramatic, smart, action-filled, and slyly understated in its literary style, this novel is a can't-put-it-downer of the first order.
When Sean Rafferty, a pasty-faced twenty-six-year-old with a link to drug gangs, is murdered, his aunt Gina, a young businesswoman, is shocked. But when in less than twenty-four hours, her uncle, Sean Rafferty, also dies in what is assumed to be a driving accident, she is horrified. Noel, the elder, is a partner in a structural engineering firm working on the 48-story Richmond Plaza development, which will be one of the tallest buildings in Europe. There he works with the developer, his security expert, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, thought to be a shoo-in for the next prime minister of the country. Before long, the reader, like Gina, suspects that there was an error, and that the wrong Sean Rafferty was killed the first time.
Another, very similar car accident more than twenty years ago, involved the minister's brother, except that in this crash three innocent people in one family died, leaving a five-year-old boy an orphan. Gina Rafferty, determined to find out how and why her brother Sean was killed, soon makes contact with the only survivor of that earlier accident, Mark Griffin, and together they begin to look into the two car accidents that claimed their family members and the history of the Richmond Plaza development. The body count rises, and Gina and Mark find themselves threatened. The dark reality of this building project always looms in the foreground as the whole structure of the government and its lucrative private relationships with builders and contractors come under scrutiny.
Throughout the novel, Alan Glynn roots both his prose and his plot in the realistic, the natural, making the action a plausible outgrowth of circumstances, instead of a dramatic melodrama. His simple metaphors and similes establish a scene without overwhelming it, and he keeps the reader constantly entertained, as his pacing and revelation of new information gradually increase the complexity of the plot. Most information comes from the action and the spot-on dialogue related to it--earthy, profane, and casual--and in this respect the style resembles the best of theatre. The "good" characters here-Gina and Mark-are less naÔve and more grounded than in most similar mystery-thrillers, and though Mark Griffin is the moral compass of the novel, neither he nor Gina is above resorting to violence in order to protect their investigation or their own interests. As the dark reality of the Richmond Plaza building project evolves, the reader becomes convinced, as never before, that morality is always relative--at least in the Dublin that Alan Glynn depicts here. Mary Whipple
The Dark Fields