Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review of Last Orders by Caimh McDonnell (2018, McFori Ink)

Two bodies are discovered buried in the Wicklow Mountains. Former policeman, Bunny McGarry, knows that the evidence trail will eventually lead to his door. Always somewhat unhinged and further traumatised from ten days at the hands of a mad-man the previous year, Bunny begins to come apart at the seams, talking to ghosts, seeing trackers everywhere, and acting more erratically than usual. Bunny’s two business partners are not fairing much better. Having built a successful investigations company, Paul seems determined to destroy it through a pointless tit-for-tat rivalry with a competitor that quickly escalates into all-out war. Brigit is in despair over Paul’s actions, the perilous state of the company, and Bunny’s mental health. Both situations are spiralling out of control and neither seems set to end well.

Last Orders is the third book in the Dublin trilogy, plus prequel, and marries both together, with the events of the prequel catching up with Bunny McGarry and effecting the fate of MCM Investigations, which is already hanging in the balance due to a feud with another company. McDonnell runs the tale as two strands – the investigation into the deaths of two men found buried in the Wicklow Mountains, and Paul and Bridget’s war with the Kelleher brothers – that become entwined through Bunny administering a dose of rough justice to a cheating gigolo. It should have been great fun, but the story felt too staged and contrived, moving from one set-piece to another, the humour a little flat with few laugh-out-loud moments, and the denouement was pretty much signalled from the start. The characters are somewhat pale shadows of themselves – Bunny is missing some verve, Paul seems to have become someone else – and the bionic FBI agent Alana Dove is straight from the ‘larger-than-life and completely unbelievable’ casting couch. Comic crime capers often suffer from stagey-ness and oddball characters, but in the best of them – as with earlier books in this series – they are inherent or incidental to the story rather than being its crux. While the story has its moments, for me it’s the weakest of the books so far.

No comments: