Friday, March 22, 2019

Review of Kaddish in Dublin by John Brady (1990, Harper Collins)

The body of a journalist is washed up on the Dublin shoreline. He is the son of a prominent, well-connected judge, who is also a member of the city’s small Jewish community. A small, unknown Palestinian group claim responsibility for the murder. The judge requests that Inspector Matt Minogue of the Murder Squad is placed in charge of the investigation. Minogue has to contend with navigating the religious landscape of the city, both Jewish and Catholic, and also the internal politics of the police, reporting to the Garda Commissioner and collaborating with Special Branch given the potential political nature of the case. As he slowly makes headway, he senses he might be dealing with a conspiracy much closer to home that has potentially far-reaching consequences.

Kaddish in Dublin is the third book in the Matt Minogue series. To my mind, the series is one of the strongest Irish police procedural series set in the South, though the tenth and last book was published in 2009. The books are straight-up procedurals rooted in the realism of everyday life, Irish society at the time, and institutional politics, with little melodrama or over-the-top action, and police officers who are ordinary people rather than having some traumatic back story. In this sense, the books are more Scandinavian in style than most US or UK contemporary series, but with a good dose of Irish humour and under-statement thrown in. This outing focuses on the death of a Jewish journalist and a political conspiracy. Set in the late 1980s and given the power of the Church at that time and political conservatism and scandals, the conspiracy didn’t feel outlandish. In fact, given the era it was written in, the topic seems quite a brave choice to focus on. Minogue goes about his business in his usual way, patiently uncovering clues and rattling cages while worrying about the consequences, and fretting over his family. There is a strong sense of place and the dialogue, in particular, is excellent. Overall, an enjoyable murder mystery with a political edge.

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