Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review of Little Criminals by Gene Kerrigan (Vintage, 2005)

Frankie Crowe is a career criminal who dreams of moving up from the junior ranks to a high flyer.  All he needs is a lucky break and a hefty pile of cash to set himself up as a player.  Justin and Angela Kennedy appear to be his meal ticket, two Celtic Tiger cubs who have become wealthy through finance and property.  Jo-Jo Mackendrick is a gangland boss, determined to protect his position and what dirty jobs do and do not happen in the city.  Crowe feels he doesn’t need Jo-Jo’s blessing, he’s earned his right to step up to the big time.  His plan is to assemble a small group of four, kidnap one of the Kennedy’s and demand a million euro ransom.  And nothing is going to get in his way: Mackendrick, the Kennedy’s or the police.  If that means the taking of lives, then so be it.

Little Criminals is a cracking read and a lesson in how write all tell and no show, using tight, sparse, expressive prose.  There isn’t a single sentence that doesn’t propel the story forward.  Rather than following one person, Kerrigan shifts the point of view, telling different elements of the story from the perspective of a handful of characters, principally the main criminal Frankie Crowe, his reluctant sidekick, Martin Paxton, kidnap victim Angela Kennedy, and copper John Grace.  The characterisation is excellent, with each character's back story, neatly and efficiently set out, with a series of wonderful scenes and realistic dialogue.  The plot is tight and gripping.  There is no real mystery element to the story, nor unlikely coincidences or melodrama, instead it simply charts how the Crowe’s attempt at making the big time unfolds, which in and of itself is highly compelling.  The whole book is wonderfully evocative of Dublin before the crash, colliding together the worlds of criminal gangs and the corporate elite.  Overall, an excellent tale, very well told.  Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do like Kerrigan's work, Rob - Another one for my TBR, I think.