Adrian McKinty writes good crime fiction. It’s muscular, with plenty of action and the body count rises, but his heroes have a thoughtful philosophical spark that makes them interesting. Killian is a fascinating character. He’s a Parvee, an Irish tinker who speaks Shelta, an argot of Irish. He grew up illiterate, only learning to read and write in his twenties, which is when he went to the States to do standover work. On returning to Ireland he acquired property and started a university degree but like others caught in the bust of the Celtic Tiger, finds himself at forty (old by Parvee standards) with negative equity and needing to replenish the coffers. So he takes a US job to straighten out a defaulting gambler. This he does with the aplomb for which he is renowned: instead of physical violence he finagles a financial deal where the guy signs over his house.
Then he’s flown to Macau, where Irish airline entrepreneur Coulter - on wife #3 - is setting up a casino. Coulter’s second wife has gone AWOL with their two daughters. She’s a junkie and Coulter persuades Killian that he just wants his girls back safe. But of course there’s more to it than that. When Killian does track down Rachel and the kids he discovers that there’s explosive information in the mix that could discredit the government, the IRA and the whole peace process. Also, there’s a Russian ex-army iceman on their tail who is very good at his job, though he does constantly squeeze a stress ball. McKinty does a good job with this character, Chechen veteran and now resident in Las Vegas with a loving Russian college going girlfriend.
McKinty is superb at everything: the psychology of his characters, dialogue, plot, landscape, zeitgeist, weapons. Through Killian we’re also educated about Parvee culture and its place in Irish history, architecture and whatever else captures his intellectual interest, such as the crazy Dutch guy whose theory is that Troy was really in England because the Iliad often mentions rain. The book ends nicely with a former Irish mentor coming over from the States to kill Killian in his little caravan with the goat tethered outside. We’re left with Killian trying to talk him out of it. Hopefully, he does.
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