Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Review of Ghost Town by Michael Clifford (Hachette, 2012)
Ghost Town is a very well written and entertaining debut novel. Michael Clifford is an Irish journalist and columnist and brings all his skills as a seasoned writer to the book. The real strengths of the novel are its plotting, the characterization, the sense of place, and the contextualization. The story is told through a series of short, tight scenes, shorn of any flab. This works to drive the plot along and to create a high tempo and good tension. And although the plotline is relatively complex, told from multiple perspectives, Clifford makes sure that the reader never loses the thread of the narrative. All of the characters are well penned with sufficient back story to give them depth and make them interesting despite there being a number of central cast members. A real plus for me was that Ghost Town is very much a book about modern Ireland, clearly set in Dublin and Kerry, and detailing elements of the property crash and how it has affected the lives of many. One touch I particularly liked was the symmetry between the professional footballer turned media mogul slowly disintegrating (Slate’s boss), with the failed footballer putting his life back together (Molloy). Clifford does an excellent job of bringing the story to a climax; though a couple of aspects of the resolution were a little clunky though just about credible. Overall, this is a very solid and enjoyable book and a very good complement to Alan Glynn’s Winterland and Gene Kerrigan’s The Rage.