Dark, epic zest from Adrian McKinty
We learn that whoever said revenge is a dish best served cold did not work from Michael Forsythe's recipe book.
We learn that an author can get readers feeling they are inside a first-person narrator's head simply by omitting quotation marks. This heightens the illusion that everything we read is filtered through the narrator rather than quoted by the author.
We learn the virtue of patience and the simple heartbreak of death.
We learn that humor can work even in grim situations, and McKinty's humor is among the grimmer ones in crime fiction. This is one of the lighter examples, but you'll get it anyway because it's also one of the funniest: "Carolyn's her real name, but she wants everyone to call her Linnie. That should have been a clue right there. She's no Bridget, though she is pretty. Pale, thin, blond. fragile. She's from Athens, Georgia, but likes the B-52's rather than R.E.M. Another clue."
Forsythe is under siege from quite a number of hired killers at the time, but he still offers a rock and roll reference that's right up there with Jo Nesbø's all-timer about the Rolling Stones in The Devil's Star.
Michael's grim, sometimes hellish journey through the last two thirds of the book may evoke for the literary-minded any number of the world's great epics. Think of the book as Dirty Harry meets Dante if you must.
That last two thirds also wiped away the one quibble I had with the book's zesty opening chapters: McKinty's use of retrospective foreshadowing, of the "I missed the chance that night, the last chance I would get because the world caved in the next morning" type. I almost always find the device obtrusive and unnecessary. I suspect McKinty used it as a reminder that Forsythe is narrating events that had happened to him before the time in which he is narrating them.
I could have done without such reminders, but I forgot my objections rather quickly once the book moved into the harrowing middle section. Among other things, the events of this section are nightmarish enough that a narrator looking back on them would understandably use them as a point of reference for everything that went before and that followed. So disregard my quibble and read the novel. It's a hell, or an inferno, of a tale.
(Dead I Well May Be is the first of a series that continues with The Dead Yard and ends with The Bloomsday Dead. Based on the first book's conclusion, I would suggest reading the novels in order if possible.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2008