Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review of Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail, 2003)

Michael Forsythe was introduced early to the school of hard knocks growing up in the working class estates of Belfast during the Troubles.  When he’s convicted of benefit fraud, Darkey White, a New York crime boss, pays for his travel to the United States.  To pay back his airfare, Forsythe works for White, running various rackets and scams, tussling with Irish Americans and the rising power of the Dominicans in Harlem and the Bronx.  Quick-witted, fearless, and handy in a tight corner, he makes a strong impression with both Darkey and his girlfriend, Bridget.  Foolishly he starts an affair with the fiery and passionate young woman; an affair that can only bring trouble.  And when the revenge comes it sends Forsythe on a hellish journey from which there seems little hope of return. 

Dead I May Well Be
is a confident, bold and assured debut novel of great depth and storytelling.  Forsythe is a complex and well-drawn character and the rest of the cast are more than mere extras.  The writing is sharp and dark, the plot is rich and thick with political and philosophical insight, as well as violence and pathos, and the story zips along at a cracking pace.  McKinty does a good job of capturing the sights and sounds of pre-Giuliani New York City, and the personal relations within and between gangs.  And the dialogue and narrator’s voice are spot on.  If you’re looking for a hardboiled slice of noir with a fresh voice, then Dead I Well May Be is as good as place to start as you’re likely to get.  What I need right now, is his second novel – I fear they might be addictive.

1 comment:

Mack said...

Rob, I count all three books of the Dead series among my all time favorite reads, ever. I also listened to the Audible recordings and they are excellent. Gerard Doyle's narration is superb.