RogerBW's Blog

Dead I May Well Be, Adrian McKinty 30 September 2018

2003 crime. Michael Forsythe left Belfast for America, but wasn't surprised when he ended up a petty criminal. After a betrayal, he sets out to get his revenge.

I think I must have missed something, some books I should have read or genre with which I should be familiar before I tackled this. It's told as an autobiography, alternating for no obvious reason between first and second person present, and lots of the little details are fascinating. But overall, I found myself wondering: what's the point?

I turn and walk along 125th past the live chicken store and the discount liquor and the horrible doughnut shop and the thinly disguised All-Things-Catholic, but really All-Things-Santería store.

There are large gaps in the narrative for no obvious reason, though it does at least stay in chronological order. Michael associates almost entirely with criminals, and for all some of them read War and Peace they're all basically stupid and violent people who aren't terribly interesting.

To be honest, I'm a bit skeptical about all his stories of "ops" and "encounters" with the Brits, the Proddies, the Intelligence Corps, the SAS, and the cops. He says it was the Irish peelers, the Garda Síochána, that gave him his limp for petrol smuggling (a limp that only ever appears when he wants sympathy for something), but I heard from Sunshine he fell off the roof of a parked car after he'd had eleven pints at Revere Beach.

Once you work out what was in the gaps, it turns out Michael wasn't any less treacherous than the rest of them; he was just more determined. The book gets described as noir, but part of the point of noir for me is that there is at least one man "who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid" – while Michael is just as mean, tarnished and afraid as everyone else.

It's not badly written, but whatever sort of person it was intended to appeal to, I'm afraid I'm not it.

Pretty and with an accent that could straighten out a Jesuit, but Linnie, really, abetting assassins is just not on; if I survive we'll have to rethink our whole relationship.

Followed by The Dead Yard, but it doesn't call out for a sequel.

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