I've been thumbing through cookbooks lately and doing a lot of baking. Maybe that's why reading Gene Kerrigan's The Rage reminded me of following an Irish recipe for a beautifully concocted explosion.
First, read the recipe's preface:
"The law was something to be manipulated for profit and power. The streets were dark with something more than night. RAYMOND CHANDLER, Trouble Is My Business"
Second, preheat the oven:
Dubliners have good reason for feeling exploited and angry. The Irish Catholic Church is rife with scandals. Favoritism among the wealthy and powerful makes a mockery of the criminal justice system. Violence has increased; the homicide-by-gun rate in Ireland is five times the rate in England and Wales. The housing bubble has popped, and the financial system is broken. Unemployment is high, and trade unions are out of fashion. As one character says, "Today, it's like everyone's grateful to be a unit of labour, to be plugged in or pulled out according to their master's will." There is so much resentment against bankers and the ranks of the privileged that Dublin's top cop is afraid to be seen in a chauffeur-driven car.
Gather the main ingredients/characters:
Tidey and Vincent feature in alternating story lines.
Set aside for fermenting:
While Vincent deals with problems created by his brother, the need for walking-around money, and the execution of a complex Big Crime, Tidey and Detective Garda Rose Cheney investigate the shooting death of Emmet Sweetman, a 42-year-old banker and property speculator. There is no shortage of motives or suspects; Sweetman had multiple affairs, and there were rumors he was preparing to negotiate with prosecutors looking into his shady financial dealings. There's plenty of pressure of various sorts on Garda brass and on Tidey and Cheney.
Evidence at the scene of Sweetman's death matches evidence involving another homicide. Ms. Coady becomes nervous about a car she saw two men park on her street. It's still there, several days later. These deceptively tame events bring the two story threads together.
Stick in the oven to bake. Brace yourself:
In an ideal world, all of the lines between right and wrong are clear, and all choices are made on the basis of legal scripture. Needless to say, The Rage isn't set in an ideal world. Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey is a flawed hero in the mold of Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and contemporary Dublin's streets are as mean as those of Chandler's Los Angeles. While Kerrigan's writing isn't as lyrical as that of Chandler, this is a wonderfully terse and tense noirish thriller that hurtles to its inevitable, but satisfying, conclusion. It won the Crime Writers Association's Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2012. If you like hardboiled books that make you think, Kerrigan, an award-winning Dublin journalist, serves up an excellent read.
Note: The Rage is Kerrigan's fourth standalone novel and was published by Europa Editions.