DEAD I WELL MAY BE by Adrian McKinty
â€śLater that evening on the ride back on the IRT, when I thought wrongly, that the night was all over and done with, I replayed everything that happened. The whole house of horrors. Bridget cleaning the blood off my shirt, the food stop, the car ride, and most of all the feathers over Shovel. I wasnâ€™t a sadist. I wasnâ€™t enjoying it. But I wanted to be sure I had it all. I needed to know that I was certain of what I was doing. I wasnâ€™t just being carried away by youth and emotion. Things were happening and I was part of them. But also occasionally I was stopping, analyzing events and saying to myself that it was all ok by me. And it was ok, too. Why? I donâ€™t know. Thatâ€™s another question entirely.â€ť
Reviewed by Guy Savage (AUG 18, 2009)
Special: Author Interview
I recently finished Adrian McKintyâ€™s latest novel, Fifty Grand–the story of a Cuban female cop who goes to Colorado to discover the truth behind the hit-and-run death of her defector father. This was the first McKinty novel for me, and I was really impressed with the authorâ€™s style. Thrillers are a dime a dozen these days, and itâ€™s no easy task to separate substance from crap, but what I particularly liked about Fifty Grand was the novelâ€™s structure. Told in another fashion, without the clever structuring, Fifty Grand would have been an entirely different read. And Iâ€™ll have to admit I thought it was a ballsy move for an Irish novelist to write a story through the eyes of a female Cuban detective.
And so, after discovering a copy of Dead I May Well Be languishing unread on my bookshelf, I picked up this earlier McKinty novel wondering if the same clever use of structure would appear and whether or not McKinty is as good a storyteller as Fifty Grand impliedâ€¦.
Dead I May Well Be is the first novel in the Michael Forsythe trilogy, and the other two titles are The Dead Yard & The Bloomsday Dead. Dead I May Well Be begins in Ireland in the aftermath of an IRA bombing. For nineteen-year-old unemployed Forsythe, recently booted out of the British army, prospects donâ€™t look good, but he manages to unexpectedly pick up a few pounds for clearing up the debris left from the bombing and even gets his mug in the paper as he removes the â€śBelfast Confetti.â€ť With money in his pocket, Forsythe buys a record and some chocolate, and life looks good for a few hours until heâ€™s confronted by a drone from the Department of Health and Social Security for unemployment benefit fraud. With unemployment benefit cut off, Forsythe has no choice but to go to America to work for thug Darkey White.
The novel then picks up in New York some months later with Forsythe living in a depressing, airless, vermin-infested hole, and working as an enforcer for Darkeyâ€™s many illegal business interests. One night, on a revenge spree with a couple of other hoods, Forsytheâ€™s tough, stone-cold delivery of a bloody “Belfast six-pack,” is followed nonchalantly with a Big Mac meal. Forsytheâ€™s cool, efficient performance makes his future in Darkeyâ€™s organization look secure, but then that isnâ€™t taking into account that Forsythe is banging Darkeyâ€™s young girlfriend, Bridget on the sly.
The meaning of the title Dead I May Well Be becomes apparent as the story develops, but Iâ€™m not going to give away any more of this superb novelâ€™s plot. This is an edge-of-your-seat, incredibly well-structured book that takes the reader from the slums and turf wars of New York to the savage depths of a Mexican prison. And just as you think that what happens to Forsythe canâ€™t get worse, it does.
Gripping, explosive and fascinating, Dead I May Well Be is crime fiction at its dark best with a protagonist who doesnâ€™t kill for thrills, but who thirsts for revenge against those who betrayed him. The novelâ€™s strength comes in its intense character study of Forsythe. At the beginning of the novel, he could be any unemployed punk looking to game the system, and even in New York, as the new man on the team, the low man on the totem pole, he doesnâ€™t exactly shine as anything special. The other hoods severely underestimate Forsythe and he gets little respect and is even the butt of a few jokes. A criminal Everyman, Forsythe is intelligent, keeps a cool head, and is incredibly patient, but like many men, heâ€™s led astray by a pair of high heels. The novelâ€™s structure fuels the storyâ€™s intensity, and unlike other writers who conceal crucial plot elements that are then lobbed at the reader, McKinty is a confidant, bold writer whoâ€™s comfortable with seeding the action with information about upcoming plot developments. With more than a nod to fate, Forsythe during crucial moments takes stock of how he could have played his hand differently:
â€śIf I hadnâ€™t done that, things would have turned out differently. I would have spent the night with her. What happened the next morning wouldnâ€™t have happened. There would have been no Mexico, there would have been no death. There would have been just me and this beautiful girl and a different narrative, a better one.â€ť
In Forsytheâ€™s world there are no simple dividing lines of good vs. evil–just culpability, shades of expedient gray, and memories expiated only by the bloodiest revenge.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 27 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Scribner (October 14, 2003)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||Not Yet|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Adrian McKinty|
|EXTRAS:||Google BooksÂ Excerpt
MostlyFiction interview withÂ Adrian McKinty
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||
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