Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review of The Rage by Gene Kerrigan (Harvill Secker 2011)

Vincent Naylor has just got out of prison for assault. His usual choice of crime is theft. Moving into an empty apartment on an unfinished development in Dublin, along with his brother Noel and two friends he immediately starts to plot his next job – an armed robbery of a security van. Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey is sailing close to the wind. He’s just been caught perjuring himself in court to protect fellow officers. Finding a link between one of his old murder cases and the execution of a banker in serious financial difficulties, Emmet Sweetman, he’s assigned to the present investigation. He’s also called in when a suspicious car is found outside the home of an old nun he has had previous dealings with. The nun’s call inadvertently unleashes a tide of violence and rage, placing Naylor and Tidey on a collision course.

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. I was a little disappointed with his last outing, Dark Times in the City, which, whilst good, didn’t quite match up to the standard of Midnight Choir, but he’s definitely back on song with The Rage (a view shared over on Petrona). Excellent stuff.


seana graham said...

I liked Midnight Choir very much, so I do hope to get to this one.

Dorte H said...

You too!

I saw Maxine´s review the other day, and I assume I´ll have to put this one on the list.

Maxine Clarke said...

Excellent review, and thanks for the kind mention. I really do love his books - his journalists' perspective informs them so well. Maybe Alan Glynn's Winterland is a bit similar in style as well as substance?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Another one I have been meaning to read.