Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Review of The City of Strangers by Michael Russell (Avon, 2013)
The first Stefan Gillespie book, The City of Shadows, was one of my top three reads of 2012, so I’d been looking forward to the second book in the series. The City of Strangers does not disappoint, with Michael Russell skilfully blending together three interconnected storylines: Gillespie travelling to New York to bring back a young man suspected of murdering his mother; a revenge plot dating back to the civil war; and the IRA’s political manoeuvrings in the US and with German intelligence and the Irish response just prior to the Second World War. The result is a compelling, page-turner police procedural/political thriller. Indeed, Russell has done a fine job at punching all the right buttons - as well as a gripping plot, the characterisation is strong, the historical contextualisation excellent, and the sense of place well realised. Gillespie is a well penned and engaging lead, with a well developed back story. He is accompanied by a mix of fictional and real characters who are all alive on the page and whose interactions are nicely observed. There is a balanced blend of Irish and international politics, supported by some nice historical detail that is informative without swamping the story. And the reader is dropped into pre-war Wicklow, Dublin and New York. Overall, a very fine piece of crime fiction and I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series.