Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review of Border Angels by Anthony Quinn (Head of Zeus, 2015)

Lena Novak has been trafficked to a brothel in a run-down farm on the Northern Ireland side of the Irish border run by a ruthless Croatian.  One her customers, an ex-IRA man and Maze prisoner turned businessman and community development champion decides to rescue her.  Only the escape goes badly wrong leaving a man dead and Lena on the run.  A short time later her knight in shining armour is also dead having seemingly committed suicide, leaving a financial mess of embezzled peace monies in his wake.  Inspector Celcius Daly investigates, quickly becoming beguiled by the mysterious Lena.  What he discovers is a dark world of illegal immigrants, prostitution, vicious pimps, shady deals, and no easy answers. 

Border Angels is the second Inspector Celcius Daly tale set in the Irish borderlands.  Daly is a sombre, listless, melancholic character, who’s experiencing a mid-life crisis.  Recently divorced and living in his father’s isolated, run-down cottage on the edge of Lough Neagh he’s also somewhat alienated by his work.  In this tale he’s investigating the death of a Croatian thug, burned to death in his car, and the apparent suicide of ex-IRA businessman whose empire was about to collapse.  The link between them is Lena Novak, a young woman trafficked into prostitution who’s determined to win her freedom and to extract revenge on the man who enslaved her.  Told through a sober voice that doesn’t shy away from the stark realities of sex trafficking and illegal immigration, Quinn charts the hesitant and uncertain dance between Daly and Novak, where at various points other people cut-in, including a republican hit-man and Novak’s pimp.  The result is a meandering story that is told in a flat, lyrical style, with a strong sense of place, that matches Daly’s melancholy and uncertainty. 

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