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16 june 2012
Dublin Dead is an odd choice of title for a crime novel whose murder victims die in Cork, Bristol, Rotterdam, and Fuengirola – though I suppose there's at least one poor stiff who buys it in Dublin, so technically the title passes muster.
Gerard O'Donovan's Krimi is a sequel to The Priest, which naturally I haven't read (I come into all detective series somewhere in the middle). From what Dublin Dead says about the plot of The Priest, it seems to be a sort of Hannibal-Lecter tale – perhaps with a nod in its own title to Michael Connelly's The Poet. Mike Mulcahy and Siobhan Fallon, tough cop and even tougher reporter, became involved while dealing with the serial killer of the earlier novel, but have drifted away again – until circumstances thrust them together in the course of uncovering a vast international ring of drug-smuggling and murder.
It's exciting stuff, with some evocative settings and some hard-boiled dialogue. Of one villain, Mulcahy's sidekick Liam Ford remarks:
What the fuck was he doing on a boat? Dirty scrote would barely recognize a bath. (210)And there are some twisty developments that I wasn't expecting. (I make a very good reader for thrillers because I am the eternal naïve reader, always expecting the plot to proceed straight ahead on a chalkline to the last page.) Overall, though, the characters and milieu are a little familiar. In particular, the bad guys are sketchily drawn. In part this is due to the necessities of the twisty plot, but in part it's because O'Donovan seems more interested (and justifiably) in his very well-drawn good guys. But the relationship among these good guys barely progresses by the time the novel is over.
That's OK, though. In the world of detective-series fiction, you can take your time developing character relationships if you're relatively confident that a dozen novels lie ahead of you. I hope, in O'Donovan's case, that they do.
O'Donovan, Gerard. Dublin Dead. 2011. New York: Scribner, 2012.