DEAD I WELL MAY BE by Adrian McKinty

Book Quote:

“Later 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 wasn’t a sadist. I wasn’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 wasn’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 don’t know. That’s another question entirely.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Guy Savage (AUG 18, 2009)

Special: Author Interview

I recently finished Adrian McKinty’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 author’s style. Thrillers are a dime a dozen these days, and it’s no easy task to separate substance from crap, but what I particularly liked about Fifty Grand was the novel’s structure. Told in another fashion, without the clever structuring, Fifty Grand would have been an entirely different read. And I’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 implied….

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 don’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 “Belfast Confetti.” With money in his pocket, Forsythe buys a record and some chocolate, and life looks good for a few hours until he’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 Darkey’s many illegal business interests. One night, on a revenge spree with a couple of other hoods, Forsythe’s tough, stone-cold delivery of a bloody “Belfast six-pack,” is followed nonchalantly with a Big Mac meal. Forsythe’s cool, efficient performance makes his future in Darkey’s organization look secure, but then that isn’t taking into account that Forsythe is banging Darkey’s young girlfriend, Bridget on the sly.

The meaning of the title Dead I May Well Be becomes apparent as the story develops, but I’m not going to give away any more of this superb novel’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 can’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 doesn’t kill for thrills, but who thirsts for revenge against those who betrayed him. The novel’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 doesn’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, he’s led astray by a pair of high heels. The novel’s structure fuels the story’s intensity, and unlike other writers who conceal crucial plot elements that are then lobbed at the reader, McKinty is a confidant, bold writer who’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:

“If I hadn’t done that, things would have turned out differently. I would have spent the night with her. What happened the next morning wouldn’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.”

In Forsythe’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: stars-4-5from 27 readers
PUBLISHER: Scribner (October 14, 2003)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
EXTRAS: Google Books Excerpt

MostlyFiction interview with Adrian McKinty


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Dead Trilogy:

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August 18, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Ireland, Mystery/Suspense, New York City, Noir, y Award Winning Author

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