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Definitely not a saint of New York,
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This review is from: A Dark and Broken Heart (Hardcover)
This is one of those stories for which the synopsis is best kept to a minimum because there's an important and surprise twist early on and I wouldn't want to spoil things by saying too much about the character of Vincent Madigan. So very briefly, and in keeping with the dust-jacket blurb, Madigan is embroiled in a robbery which goes wrong - a child is injured - and most of the tale involves his efforts to protect that child and her mother and wriggle out of trouble himself. You could call him a killer with a new-found conscience in search of a redemption that he knows he does not deserve.
I found it difficult not to draw comparisons between this and Ellory's 2010 offering Saints of New York, even though the stories have little in common. The key difference is that while the leading character of SoNY was fundamentally good, Vince Madigan is simply bad, and any entitlement to redemption is just too late now. This the reader knows from pretty much the first couple of pages and it has to be said that his ultimate destiny is not hard to guess at - it's just a question of how the journey unfolds. The conflict for many a reader, I guess, is that Madigan is curiously likeable, and despite his black past and irreconcilable actions, you'll have at least a part of you that roots for him. He is the hard-drinking pill-popper with the dark and broken heart, he's aware of it but in spite of his estranged wives and children he makes a point of saying that there is no point on dwelling on the past, no point in regrets. What's done is done, he says.
It took a while to really get involved in this tale but as usual with this author I most definitely did, and the 'middle bit' is highly entertaining. It was just a shame, then, that the conclusion was so predictable - and I'm not normally much good at forecasting denouements. Nevertheless this is the best story I have read so far this year, and as ever head and shoulders above some 'top selling' alternatives. Ellory is a real writer, capable of drawing new characters each time out and making them real, and in this case pulling off the notable trick of making the reader care for someone they shouldn't.
So when compared to what's out there in 2012, this is as good as you'll find in my estimation and worthy of a recommendation. The even better news, if you haven't read anything by this author before, is that all of his previous nine novels are at the very least as good and probably better. It's a measure of his ability and talent that even when he's not at his very best, he's still capable of satisfying high-hoping readers such as myself. This was always going to be my most eagerly anticipated novel of the current year and true to form Ellory has not let me down. I just wish he was more widely read than he is, because he is a class act and shows the amateurs how it's really done.