Falling Glass by Adrian McKinty is one of my best reads for 2011.
How much did I like it?
About thirty pages in, I put it down, went onto The Book Depository website (sorry bookshop purists) and bought myself two of McKinty’s earlier books
That’s how much.
I’m a late convert to McKinty’s work, but am now a keen follower. I’ve just finished Dead I May Well Be, his debut book, which showed the promise which led to a book like Breaking Glass.
I’m also very excited to discover that he has a new novel coming out early next year, The Cold Cold Ground. As the publisher’s blurb describes it:
“Belfast. Spring 1981. Hunger strikes, riots, power cuts … and a homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera. Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation. As a Catholic policemen, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because neither side trust him. The first book of a new fast-paced, gripping trilogy laced with dark humour, Cold, Cold Ground is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles—and a cop treading a thin, thin line.”
The central character of Falling Glass is Killian, a tough as nails Tinker criminal. His ambition to go straight has been derailed by the Irish economic crisis and, reluctantly, he’s back to doing other people’s illegal dirty work.
His first job sees Killian flying to America for a little debt collecting. But Killian needs one more big score before he can get out of the life. This comes when a rich Irish airline executive hires Killian to find an ex-wife who has fled with the businessman’s two kids. The businessman wants the kids back so he can play happy families with his new wife, an Italian model.
In the book’s opening scene, wife number one and her children narrowly evade capture by armed men, a wonderfully atmospheric scene set in a down at heel caravan park.
While it seems like a straight out missing person case, of course it’s a lot more. In particular, there’s the matter of the lap top she carrying with her, the only thing apart from her children she won’t let out of her sight.
Soon there’s a psychopathic Russian hit man on her trail and a host of other characters are drawn into the story, most of whom dwell in the shadows of Ireland’s troubled past.
Killian is tremendous character. Street smart, existentially torn, with a criminal pedigree that includes time working in New York and connections to the criminal elements of the IRA.
How he reconciles his position within a globalised Ireland wracked by economic crisis and the far older code of the Tinkers is also well rendered.
Falling Glass is available through Serpent’s Tail books. The Cold Cold Ground will be available locally through Allen and Unwin in early 2012.