Monday, August 29, 2011

Review of Winterland by Alan Glynn (Faber, 2009)

A gangland thug is shot dead at the back of a pub. A structural engineer drives down an embankment dying in the crash. Both are named Noel Rafferty and they are nephew and uncle. The official line is that it is pure coincidence that they died on the same night. Gina Rafferty though cannot accept that verdict. She starts to investigate, concentrating in particular on her brother, the engineer. He had been working on a massive development nearing completion on Dublin's quays. The night he died he was agitated and sober. The crash report says he was well over the limit. Gina prods and pushes the developer Paddy Norton, a man with strong political connections, for answers. Her actions are like poking a wasps’ nest with a stick ...

In Winterland Alan Glynn manages to intertwine two criminal cultures of Ireland – the gangland underworld and the boardrooms of corrupt developers and political cronies. It’s a searing social commentary on Irish life, full of keen observational insight and emotional depth. Glynn writes with deceptively engaging prose, appearing quite ordinary but actually well layered and lyrical. The principal characters are all nicely developed, with full contextual back stories. The plot was well structured and despite the story being framed as a thriller that links a disparate set of characters it is very believable. One of the things I found quite fascinating is that Winterland is not a whodunit or even a howdunnit. The reader knows pretty much from the start who did the killings, why and how. They also know the answers to the secondary story. And yet, Glynn manages to maintain and ratchet up the tension throughout. It was an interesting approach and worked surprisingly well. The story is slightly flabby in places and could have done with a little tightening, and the ending felt a tad weak even though it had nice symmetry, but these are minor issues. Overall, a very entertaining read that provides real insight into twenty first century Ireland.


5 comments:

Andressa C. said...

:)

jiescribano said...

I just put it first in my TBR list.

Declan Burke said...

Yep. And 'Bloodland' takes that kind of storytelling and turns into an epic globe-trotter ... You're for a treat.

Cheers, Dec

Vanda Symon said...

Argh, now I'm going to have to get this. And there I was trying not to add to the TBR mountain.

seana said...

I'm a Glynn fan as well.