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The Bloomsday Deadby Adrian McKinty
Synopses & Reviews
In the heart-stopping finale of the Dead trilogy, tough guy Michael Forsythe — bad-boy antihero of the critically acclaimed Dead I Well May Be and The Dead Yard — returns to his native Ireland, where a dangerous and beautiful old flame forces Michael to look for her daughter, who has mysteriously disappeared in Belfast.
Laying low in South America, Michael has been running security for the Miraflores Hilton in Lima, Peru, juggling temperamental tourists, irksome dignitaries, and the occasional lady of the night. But Michael's colorful life in Lima comes to a violent halt with the arrival of two Colombian hit men who trap him in one of the hotel's rooms and force him at gunpoint to take a call from Bridget Callaghan in Ireland.
Michael and Bridget have a lot of history. For one, they used to be lovers. For another, Michael killed Bridget's husband. Bridget offers Michael a terrible choice: come find my daughter, or my men will kill you — now.
Michael arrives in Dublin on Bloomsday, June 16th, the date that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place — but whether this coincidence augurs well for him or foretells his end can't yet be known. In the span of this single day, he penetrates the heart of an IRA network, is kidnapped, escapes, then worms his way into the criminal underground in search of the missing girl. Never certain who to trust, Michael keeps his revolver close at hand — and doesn't hesitate to use it — outsmarting at every turn any number of determined would-be assassins.
Before the day is out, on a windswept ocean cliff, Michael finds himself face-to-face with the kidnappers as well as the lovely and murderous Bridget. It is there that he must finally confront a series of shocking truths — not just about others but, above all, about himself as well.
Riveting, violent, witty, and lyrical, The Bloomsday Dead is vintage McKinty. Packed with crackling dialogue and one-of-a-kind characters, here is an unforgettable new crime novel from a master of literary suspense and the author of The Dead Yard, which Publishers Weekly named one of the fifteen best novels of 2006.
"The first words in Adrian McKinty's third novel about the Irish adventurer Michael Forsythe are: 'State LY Plum P. Buck Mulligan.' If you're a literary type, and you puzzle over that a bit, you might perceive that it's a variation on the first four words in James Joyce's 'Ulysses': 'Stately, plump Buck Mulligan.' But you soon learn that here the phrase has nothing to do with Joyce or his novel (except... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) insofar as it has everything to do with it). It is, rather, a coded message that Forsythe's assistant brings him to warn of trouble in the Lima, Peru, luxury hotel where they maintain security. Mulligan, here, refers not to stately, plump Buck but to the golfing term for an extra shot. It's the sort of wordplay that Joyce himself would have enjoyed, and fair warning that this is a rather unusual novel. It's also a very Irish novel, which is to say it is jampacked with both violence and poetry. Forsythe hastens to the hotel, kills a couple of men who want to kill him and talks by phone to his former lover, Bridget, who sent the assassins but has had a change of heart. Her daughter has been kidnapped in Belfast, and Bridget, the boss of an Irish American crime syndicate, is convinced that Forsythe is the only man smart and lethal enough to save her. So Forsythe sets out for Ireland. His first stop is Dublin, where he arrives on June 16, the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday, the day of 'Ulysses.' Some villains try to kill him there — he, of course, kills them instead — and he also gets caught up in a Bloomsday parade packed with 'barbers, undertakers, bookies, priests, nuns, all of them in old-timey gear.' In a more perfect world, McKinty would have set his entire novel in Dublin during Bloomsday, but his ultra-violent agenda demands that he send Forsythe north to that far more dangerous city, Belfast. In both cities there are echoes of 'Ulysses' (and of its inspiration, Homer's 'Odyssey'): a parade, a brothel, a cave, a woman whose affections are uncertain. But it would be a mistake to push the comparison too far. The hints of Joyce are amusing, but essentially this is a story about big-time violence in Belfast. Perhaps there is a certain cosmic level at which the endless blood lust of our species is not so much tragic as comic. McKinty has tapped into this level. Forsythe endlessly kills people, and it's gory and awful, but it's funny, too. We keep forgiving him because he's such a charming and literate fellow and also because the people he kills almost always deserve their fate. Part of the humor stems from the fact that he has an artificial foot, the result of a mishap in an earlier book, and it keeps coming loose in the middle of shootouts. Also, our killer-hero has a knack for pithy dialogue, as when he warns a man he's about to shoot: 'One move and it's tea and crumpets with Beelzebub.' Belfast is all that you might imagine, even in a time of truce. There are more gangsters, psychopaths and paramilitaries running around than you can shake an AK-47 at. But plot is not really the virtue of this book. It's the writing that makes it so enjoyable. McKinty enlivens his tale with nasty asides: In the Bloomsday parade Forsythe encounters 'one of the old geezers from 60 Minutes.' the door of a brothel is opened by 'a beautiful hard-faced blonde with vampiric eyes.' A killer looks like 'Barry Bonds on anger-management day.' Describing a man's looks, Forsythe says, 'I've seen a dozen better-looking corpses, and that's just today.' Or, striking a different note, consider this reflection on Irish history by McKinty, who was born in Northern Ireland and now lives in Denver: 'From Saint Patrick to the Vikings, Ireland had five centuries of peace. Never before nor after. That time ripped apart literally in a Norse blood eagle of ribs and axe-cleaved hearts. And ever since we've had the creature with us. Our shadow, our watcher, our tormentor, our instigator. It sleeps. It dreams. But it's still here. Coiled. Hungry. A stalking monster of revenge and memory. It moves and weaves. Slipping sideways, backwards, but always moving, driven by malcontent. Its greatest reign, the Troubles. And I suppose some might say that it's not sleeping, it's dying. It's possible, but it's too soon to tell ... the evil waits. Biding its time. It moves the clouds, it stirs the breeze.' The first Forsythe novel, 'Dead I Well May Be,' was intense, focused and entirely brilliant. This one is looser-limbed, funnier and not quite its equal, but well worth your time. So, I imagine, is the middle book, 'The Dead Yard,' which I haven't read but which Publishers Weekly included on its list of the 15 best novels of 2006, along with works by Peter Abrahams, Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy and George Pelecanos." Reviewed by Peniel E. Joseph, an assistant professor of Africana studies at SUNY Stony Brook and the author of 'Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America'Timothy Noah, a senior writer at SlateJames P. Othmer, who is a former advertising executive and the author of the novel 'The Futurist'Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Bullets fly and Joycean literary references ricochet everywhere." New York Times
"Reading any of McKinty's novels is a verbal treat, a contact high of an experience." Rocky Mountain News
"Michael Forsythe is a virtuoso mayhem machine — except when it comes to handling his fatal attraction to Bridget Callaghan, the ex-girlfriend turned New York Irish mob boss who's been trying to kill him for a decade.... Raise a glass; young Forsythe will be missed." Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, when terrorism in Ulster was at its height. Educated at Oxford University, he then immigrated to New York City, where he lived in Harlem for five years, working in bars and on construction crews, as well as a stint as a bookseller. He is the author of Hidden River and Dead I Well May Be, which was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
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