Dark Times In The City by Gene Kerrigan
|Dark Times In The City by Gene Kerrigan|
|Reviewer: Ruth Price|
|Summary: This is a fast-paced crime novel, the third in a series set in Dublin, with various hard-boiled gangsters torturing, threatening and killing a range of unfortunate folk who get in their way. A robust read - fans of Guy Ritchie films will love it, as it's majorly macho.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 320||Date: April 2009|
|Publisher: Harvill Secker|
Dark Times In The City is the third in a series of gangland crime novels mainly set in Dublin, but as a thriller it can be enjoyed out of sequence, although I think I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd read the previous two novels, as some of the characters were somewhat summarily developed. I suspect their back stories from the previous novels would have helped.
The main focus of this novel is Danny Callaghan, recently released from jail, whose impulsive intervention in the attempted assassination of petty criminal Walter Bennett embroils him reluctantly in a gangland war.
This story rattles along at quite a pace, but I still sometimes found it hard to concentrate as the characters were generally so unlikeable, and I didn't have the benefit of lyrical writing to ease me along in my reading. The last few chapters of the novel were among the best, when Lar Mackendrick, an elder statesman among Dublin's gangland community, plots to outmanoeuvre a rising gangster who threatens his turf. Danny Callaghan finds himself in an impossible position as everyone he cares about is threatened and he's forced to think and act fast under enormous pressure.
Gene Kerrigan has a talent for writing crime – he has an air of authority doubtless gained from long years as a journalist reporting on Dublin's political and cultural scene. His villains are sharply-drawn, and he paints a convincing picture of Dublin's contemporary under and over-world. However, in the course of preparing this review, I read some of his columns and felt that his writer's voice as a journalist – opinionated, humorous and pithy – didn't always come across in his novel-writing style, which seems a little dour and workmanlike, as if no word can be wasted.
It may be a girl-thing, but this novel often substitutes brand-names for description. The pages are literally peppered with brand names from Sony Ericsson to Reebok to Walther P22 (a make of gun). If this novel is ever filmed, marketing men could have a field day. I'd rather a more generic description - in the case of cars, mentioning the make and model doesn't help me much at all as I am car-blind.
From the ending, it looks as if further novels from Kerrigan, set in Dublin will be forthcoming – assuming there are enough mean gangster-types left after all those killed in Dark Times. It'd be nice to see a little more humour injected into the next one – not that I am expecting him to write chick-lit!
Thanks to the nice people at Harvill Secker (Random House) for sending a copy of Dark Times to Bookbag for this review.
For further reading, Christine Falls by Benjamin Black is an absolutely top-notch crime novel set in Dublin, and comes heartily recommended.
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