Killian makes a hard living enforcing other people's laws, collecting debts, dealing out threats and finding people who do not wish to be found. Retired hitman Michael Forsythe sets Killian up with the best paid job of his life: Richard Coulter, a prominent, politically connected, Irish businessman, owner of a budget airline, needs someone to find his ex-wife and children. He offers Killian half a million to track her down and bring his children back.
There are some books that it is just flat out a relief to finish. Too much sleep deprivation and the dust bunnies can start to look like they are moving into formations for the final onslaught. FALLING GLASS really cheats a lot. Having become a somewhat besotted Michael Forsythe fan, I did think I could approach FALLING GLASS with the vague hope of keeping reasonable hours. He plays a bit part only in this book after all, with the action centred around enforcer Killian. Should have known better. McKinty writes that brand of dark, violent, no holds barred, tempered with touches of raw and magnificent humour, Irish noir that makes me forget to feed the dogs and forces me to remind myself that no normal person is still awake at 4.00am convincing themselves that just a few more pages won't hurt.
There are differences between Killian and Forsythe. Killian is an enforcer, rather than a straight out hitman. He looks for solutions to problems, and he's not above using some elegant albeit somewhat crafty ways of getting results for whoever is paying him. He's also looking for a way out. A chance to retire and enjoy the good life, it's his expertise in finding people that don't want to be found that means Forsythe recommends him for a big job. A very wealthy Irish businessman, Richard Coulter, is prepared to pay big money for somebody to find his ex-wife and return his two young daughters. Fed the line that the ex is a drug addict who is going to endanger the girls, Killian is attracted by the sheer size of the pay packet - retirement seems just that bit closer. Of course things are going to get complicated, and of course there's going to be more than meets the eye to the wife's disappearance. The fact that there are a few elements to the plot of this story that are predictable is neither here nor there - this is a book about the journey. Killian's journey from enforcer to retiree. His journey from it being all about the money, to an understanding that there are some things that are more important than money. The journey from being the chaser to the chased.
Along the way there's a wonderful sense of the Irishness of this book. Killian is a tinker, a traveller, a background that he can't get away from, a lifestyle to which he can return with absolutely no questions asked and all kindnesses forthcoming. The landscape in which the action takes place, the weather, the characters that everyone rubs up against in the chase go further to making such a strong sense of place. The humour, the outlook, the language, the tone - it's all very very Irish. As is the ending. Spectacularly Irish, utterly unresolved - it's an ending that's probably going to drive some readers bats and made me joyously happy. Because I still love Michael Forsythe - and not just because he's a bad guy - but I also love Killian - not just because he's complicated. And I don't know if he'll be back in another book. And now that's keeping me awake.
DEAD I WELL MAY BE - Adrian McKinty
'I didn't want to go to America. I didn't want to work for Darkey White. I had my reasons. But I went'.
So admits Michael Forsythe, an illegal immigrant escaping the Troubles in Belfast. But young Michael is strong and fearless and clever - just the fellow to be trapped by Darkey, a crime boss, to join a gang of Irish thugs going head to head against the rising Dominican powers in Harlem and the Bronx.
Dark and funny, tough and confrontational, lyrical and even poetic in places, quintessentially Irish, DEAD I WELL MAY BE is the first in a series of books featuring Michael Forsythe, a young Irish man with a flair for danger, drinking, and fighting his way out of impossible situations.
McKinty writes in a style that's easy to associate with noir Irish writing, a sort of a stream of consciousness thing, that alternates between incredibly compelling and making the reader want to hide under the bed blankets. Michael is a young Irish man, older and wiser than his age would make you expect, at the same time incredibly naive and almost unbelievable at points, DEAD I WELL MAY BE is the story of how he get's himself into a no-win position. Young, fearless, clever, stupid and naive, and despite not really wanting to go, Michael heads to America to work for crime boss Darkey White. Well he professes he doesn't want to go, but the reader can easily suspect that the adventure is a great lure for a young man like Michael. In the same way that an affair with Darkey's girlfriend Bridget has that frisson of danger. Darkey, on the other hand, is more ruthless about these things, and his discovery of the affair leads to a life and death struggle in the Mexican prison system.
This is the first book in the series, and I have read a later one already, so that probably helped a little in knowing where this story is heading and finding out a lot more about how the characters tick. Michael is a tricky character to get a handle on in this book - wise and knowledgeable seemingly beyond his years and life experience, there's an awful lot of bravado about Michael which might catch some readers - as it does seem to bamboozle some of the other characters in the book. Darkey's more of a bit part in this book, working often through intermediaries, it does create a level of menace about the man that's quite disturbing. Bridget almost seems like the female version of Michael, she's as addicted to risk as Michael seems to be.
All in all, DEAD I WELL MAY BE is the start of a series of books, and you have to read it making a little allowance for ongoing character development in the following books. You may also find that the style of the prose, the internal monologues and rants of Michael, in particular, seem a little self-indulgent at points. You may even find the total lack of a supposed moral compass somewhat offputting, but then this is Irish noir at it's brutal best.
To be perfectly honest, there were points in the book where I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Didn't worry me - loved the ride.
Michael Forsythe might be, as one of his assailants puts it, 'un-fucking-killable', but that doesn't seem to deter those who want him dead. He's ensconced in Lima, reasonably well hidden by the FBI's Witness Protection Programme, but Bridget Callaghan, whose fiancee he murdered twelve years ago, has an enduring wish to see him dead.
THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD is the third book in the Michael Forsythe "Dead" Trilogy - DEAD I WELL MAY BE and THE DEAD YARD are the earlier books. There's an awful lot to really like in THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD.
Firstly, it is the third book in a trilogy but I've been very remiss and haven't yet read the first two (which failing I vow to rectify). Didn't matter. You can follow the story, you can glean the back story of Michael and how he got himself into the mess that he's trying to resolve in THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD. And it is a big mess. Michael Forsythe has been in a Witness Protection Program - hidden in Lima, Peru trying to stay off arch-enemy Bridget Callaghan's radar. He had killed her fiancée Darkey years before, and after taking over Darkey's criminal empire, Bridget vowed revenge. She'd had quite a few attempts, but as one assassin puts it - Michael's 'un-fucking-killable'. But hostilities are temporarily shelved when two assassins in Michael's bedroom "suggest" a chat on the phone with Bridget is in order. Michael's somewhat confused to find she's not wanting to gloat over his final hour - instead she's asking for his help. Bridget's daughter has been kidnapped - and Michael has a deal on his hands. Get back to Belfast and find Siobhan in 24 hours - much will be forgiven.
Secondly, it is written in a wonderful voice. Whilst the book is dark and the violence is overt and extreme, it's balanced with a lovely touch of gallows humour. Not put on, the tone of the book fits with the world that the story inhabits. There are little observations of how much Ireland has changed since Michael had to run - small glimpses into Michael's mind and out through Michael's eye. The style of writing is compelling - lyrical - quintessentially Irish, at least to this reader. The story rips along at a rapid pace, but all the time you're allowed to feel you know Michael, you can understand him. He's a blunt, brutal man on one level - prepared, willing and able to do whatever it takes to stay alive, but on another level, he's a bit of softie. He's got a history with Bridget and for what it's worth - that means a lot to him.
Finally, it's just a darn good story. Perhaps this is where reading the first two books might, just might, give the reader the edge. There's obviously some threads being tied off in THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD. Knowing the full extent of the back story may just heighten the sense of finality - it certainly didn't make this book any less enjoyable. Really the only thing that wasn't enjoyable about THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD is that it looks like this is meant to be a trilogy and it's now over. And that's just flat out disappointing.