Thursday, August 16, 2012
Review of A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady (New Island, 2012)
A June of Ordinary Murders is an engaging historical police procedural. The start is quite ponderous and has too much show and not enough tell, with Brady spending time setting out the organisation of the Dublin police force, sometimes repeating certain information, and positioning the main characters. As the story unfolds the storytelling becomes more lively with a number of intersecting subplots, and the tale progresses to a nice resolution. The set-up is fairly standard police procedural fare, with Swallow being somewhat of a maverick, outsider cop with an idiot boss in Inspector Boyle and who is used to battling the interfering forces of the media and elite classes (in this case the British administration and city official). The characterisation is generally good throughout, especially Swallow, though the criminal classes and Boyle felt a bit caricaturish (also it’s difficult to take seriously any character named ‘Pisspot’, especially someone meant to be a ruthless criminal boss). The historicisation is well done, transporting the reader to late nineteenth century Dublin and its inequalities and political machinations. Overall, after a stilted start, A June of Ordinary Murders is an enjoyable multi-layered tale and a fine addition to Irish crime fiction. I look forward to Swallow's next outing.