on 9 May 2012
Gene Kerrigan is one of Ireland's leading columnists and a keen observer and critic of Irish social and political life. In The Rage he weaves together a whole series of astute observations regarding the financial crisis, the property bust, the Ryan Report and Church abuses, and gangland crime. The writing is superb, with prose that is engaging and well paced, credible dialogue and a range of nicely penned characters that feel like real people. Kerrigan does a fine job at tugging and twisting the various strands together to produce a compelling narrative. Whilst there are resolutions with respect to both the Sweetman and Naylor cases, I like that Kerrigan has left them somewhat ambiguous and unsettling. It fits with the whole unsettling feel of the book. For anyone who lives in Ireland what is disconcerting is that reading the novel feels like seeing society reflected back as it is, rather than simply reading a story. Excellent stuff.
This is an OK thriller. I think the reason why I say that is that I did read and finish it quickly, but found nothing really original about the story line or characters. There was no 'twist', it was all pretty obvious how the story was going to pan out. The characters were a bit two dimensional, no real originality here either.
So, although I finished it - normally a good sign - I now feel there was nothing memorable about this book.
It was OK. Thats about it.
on 17 February 2015
I really enjoyed this book. It had a great sense of place within Ireland and Kerrigan had some wonderful characters. Tidey the detective was likable as a protagonist and I felt that the portrayal of the antagonist in Vincent Naylor was well done. So much so that there was a sense of sympathy for him. This probably came from Kerrigan’s writing of grief that Naylor goes through. There are some tough subjects covered within the book and they are covered well without making readers feel uncomfortable or preached to. I will definitely read Kerrigan again.
on 19 October 2012
I wasn't going to bother reviewing this book. But I've just discovered it's won the Crime Writers Association (CWA) Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, which really surprises me. It's a perfectly decent piece of crime fiction - but no more than that. Pretty predictable and with an unremarkable cast of characters. There must surely be many better books recently published in this genre. 3 1/2 stars would be about right.
on 18 March 2016
This had a grey dourness about it. entirely serious and non-celebratory, which added authenticity, made it a little slower than it might to begin with, but ended with me caring a good deal how it finished up.
on 2 October 2015
I really enjoyed this book. It makes a change to read a police thriller that is not from the States or an English city. There is a subtle difference in the speech patterns, humour and levels of underworld behaviour that this author brings out nicely. Dodgy cops, nasty but believable villains and buzzing story.
This is the second book of Kerrigan's I've read. I'll read another when this one is out of my system.
No pun intended in Heading (yes there was)
A Detective Sergeant who still shares a bed with his estranged wife, a professional thief with criminal friends, a dead body, and a septuagenarian nun. The corpse belongs to a crooked banker whose murder is being investigated by DS Bob Tidey, which brings him into contact, and gains knowledge of, sometimes fortuitously, with everyone else involved in Gene Kerrigan's fourth novel. And that's the main problem with `The Rage'; there are too many names mentioned. Many belong to villains that do the odd job for someone further up the ladder of crime and sometimes it's difficult to keep track of remembering who they are.
That some are involved in the side helping of the killing of the banker, and, as it turns out, an earlier murder, does not detract from the main course of the build-up and enactment of Vincent Naylor's frenzy when he hears his brother has been shot by the police - hence the book's title. Though the vernacular may not be to everyone's taste -and it obviously represents the people of the place - Kerrigan's description of Dublin through Tidey, Rose Cheney, his partner on this case at least, and the other characters paint a vivid picture of the city in economic decline.
As to the story itself, it does jump about a bit too much at times and one particular passage concerning the nun's past seems rather irrelevant. However, countering that is the sympathy you have with Naylor's brother when he realises the game is up. Crooked he may be, but the author conveys that, in his brief death throes, he realises how wasteful it has all been. As for the main villain, all you feel is hatred as he struts around as the big `I am', walking over people simply because they happen to be weaker. (Whatever he tells everyone what he thinks of his hairdresser girlfriend, he still lies to her when she's waiting for him. Maybe that's what people such as this do.) The original murder (one of ten people who end up dead) is also solved but is left to fizzle out once the perpetrator's name has been mentioned a couple of times. Another perculiarity is the way Kerrigan uses italics for the thoughts of the characters, but that might just be his style.
That the age old favourite of detective stories of the main protagonist being taken off the case, sent on gardening leave but managing to put everything right, is trotted out is best ignored as `The Rage' turns out to be better than the first few pages suggest.
on 28 July 2011
Gene Kerrigan's `the Rage" is a workmanlike police thriller set in contemporary Dublin. It is readable but not greatly inspired. If books were policemen, this one would be assigned to Traffic rather than CID.
Kerrigan's Dublin (the author is a respected journalist for the Sunday Independent) is deep in recession: national confidence has given way to bewilderment; conspiracy theories and the uncovering of "corruption and executive incompetence" abound; the scars of clerical abuse are not yet healed; youth is unemployed and McMansions hang on the edge of the market at asking prices one half of their value just months before. Yet, there are two professions that are recession proof: crime and the fighting of crime: a gangster reflects that his is still a full employment business and a guard that "whatever else went belly up there'd always be hard men and chancers and a need for someone to put manners on them."
"The Rage" has two interlinked plot strands. In the first, DS Bob Tidey, assisted by Detective Rose Cheney, investigates the murder of a shady banker. Tidey is the standard fictional detective, a good man forced to cut corners to ensure that justice is done, a good cop who is not always in sync with his superiors, a decent man with a broken personal life and a mild existential crisis: "I'm not who I set out to be - not any longer. And I don't know where it goes from here."
In the second plot strand, Kevin Naylor, a two-dimensional, psycopathic but not unintelligent thug, is released from Mountjoy Prison having completed his sentence for beating up a harmless "geek" just because he could. He manages to land a gig in a planned robbery of a security van. The two plots converge when one of Tidey's contacts, a retired nun with a deep secret, reports a suspicious vehicle parked outside her house. The guards correctly surmise that this is a "secondary" getaway car positioned for a switchover following some heist. They stake it out and .... well I won't give it away.
Thoroughly modern thriller, set in today's Ireland, that is unlikely to be recommended by the Irish Tourist Board.
With Ireland's banking crisis looming large in the foreground of this violent story, and the scandal of its abusive Roman Catholic Church ministers lurking in the background, the casual violence of the paramilitary and ex-paramilitary communities is more or less a given. All these elements, together with a pretty corrupt legal and police system, makes the Dublin shown here unpleasant and unappealing.
This, in itself, is not a problem, of course. Many, if not most, "noir" style thrillers are set in a dark place. But, in "The Rage" as well as a bleak setting Kerrigan has assembled a generally unsympathetic cast of characters:
A violent and uncaring thief, capable of casual murder; A bent cop prepared to stoop as low as the criminals he's investigating; Even the retired Nun has a history of child abuse.
This is all very grown up and realistic, but, really it makes it very difficult to care about any of the characters, or the city they inhabit. The message at its end ""There's no redemption?" "And there shouldn't be. There's just living with it, I think"" (p.288)is truthful but unedifying.
Well written, in short bursts rather like a TV serial, this is basically a failed heist story, now a well established sub-genre. The ending is slightly underplayed, particularly the choice Detective Tidey has to make is not made to feel difficult for him. I must admit, although well drawn, I would not really like to revisit the characters or setting depicted here.
I loved Kerrigan's two previous crime books (Little Criminals, The Midnight Choir), so I picked this up with great anticipation. Set amidst the aftermath of Ireland's real estate bust, the story follows two main storylines. One protagonist is Vincent Taylor, just out of jail for having beaten someone on the street over some childish name calling. Determined to never again take any stupid risks with the law without adequate reward, he's busy planning an intricate armored car heist. Meanwhile, on the other side of the law is D.S. Tidey, who's been assigned to assist with investigating the murder of a wealthy Dublin property developer. As one would expect, the course of the book leads the to the paths of the two protagonists crossing (if not quite literally) via a retired nun. The story flits back and forth between the two men in a way that maintains a brisk pace, but at the expense of a little choppiness. The chapters are only 5-6 pages long, so no sooner have you settled in with one situation than you are teleported to a another.
My favorite part of the book was the heist plotline, which is packed with fascinating details (like GPS chips in shirt-collars). However, after it goes somewhat south, it all gets a bit messy in a somewhat predictable way. Similarly, the investigation into the murdered property developer leads to some very connected people who have the power to shut the investigation down once a semi-plausible culprit has been identified. D.S. Tidey faces the classic dilemma of disobeying his orders or walking away to fight crime another day. The social justice aspect of the book (crooked developers, and even the nun has a dark backstory) probably strays a touch over the line into being heavy-handed, but it's a well-crafted and well-told book stocked with fully-realized characters. Definitely worth reading if you like crime with a procedural bent, or have a particular interest in Ireland.