It's noir, but is it always Dublin?
The result is an odd assortment of stories from American, British, Irish and Canadian writers, Eoin Colfer, Laura Lippman, Jim Fusilli, Olen Steinhauer, Reed Farrel Coleman and Bruen himself among them. Why odd? Because there are some terrific stories here, only some left me wondering what they had to do with Dublin or Ireland. With others, the connection was there, but self-conscious and seemingly grafted on as an afterthought. In one or two, the dialect and pronunciation were grating. Bruen writes that "You won't find many leprechauns or bodhráns here — and not one top o' the mornin'." Fair enough, but a pack of writers who make their characters say "feckin' this" and "feckin' that" all the time can be just as bad.
What binds the collection, then? Well, a number of men wind up bound, to chairs or to beds, victims or potential victims of revenge. Two of the collection’s best stories are revenge tales, from Craig McDonald and Laura Lippman, McDonald’s because of a clever twist and Lippman’s, noirest of noir, true to the bleak spirit of the genre but new all the same, with a punch-in-the-gut double twist. I also like Duane Swierczynski’s “Lonely and Gone,” dark as its title and with a canny use of untranslated Irish Gaelic that adds to the strange, buzzing, off-kilter atmosphere. And John Rickards appears to have torn up whatever guidelines he was given when he wrote his weird, paranoid, hilarious supernatural romp, "Wish."
Eoin Colfer’s “Taking on PJ” is another highlight. It takes a special kind of alchemy to mix violence with laugh-out-loud humor and make both work. No one does it better than Bruen himself, and Colfer is just about as good. It’s no wonder Bruen chose “Taking on PJ” to open the collection. With its accent and its attitude, there’s no mistaking where this one takes place.
(Click here for the complete table of contents of Dublin Noir.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Irish crime fiction