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Headbangerby Hugo Hamilton
Synopses & Reviews
Patrick Coyne, Dublin beat cop, has every reason to be a happy man. He has a loving wife and three healthy children, with a handsome house. But there are worms eating away at Garda Coyne, worms destroying his wholesome apple. His reviled mother-in-law is responsible for the house, a fact she is loath to have him forget. His wife is getting too bohemian for his tastes. His children pester him for a swing set, and Ireland as he knows it is descending rapidly down the crapper.
Coyne mutters and sputters from behind the steering wheel of his squad car. He is rabid about vandalism and indecent exposure, the lack of respect for the Irish tongue, and the effect of capitalism on the Irish identity- doing more damage than all the years of the Troubles put together. Anything is likely to set him off, from a billboard for a lingerie sale ("Bras Reduced" sends him into a spin about women shrinking) to the cheekiness of local drug dealers. One duo in particular shove Coyne round the bend — the brothers Cunningham. With their designer dogs, togs, and SUVs, the brothers are slick representatives of everything that ails modern Ireland. They have a signature sadistic execution style for stoolies and competitors: a stoned stripper does a faux religious dance as the condemned is smothered with a garbage bag and simultaneously crucified.
Even Special Branch is intimidated by their high-priced lawyers, so the wheezing, boozing Coyne decides to take them on. He vows to take his sergeant's advice and connect the shite to the arsehole. True to form, the declaration of war is subtle and sophisticated: he torches their cherished car. The ensuing battle is bloody and ridiculous, absurd and brilliant, as is Hugo Hamilton's sharp portrait of a depressed cop, a depressed city, a depressed economy — the new Ireland.
Headbanger is a rock 'em sock 'em cop show waiting to happen, with a twist of perversity and lunacy that is distinctively Irish.
The pleasures of violence, suspense, and local color are here in about equal measure. Not to mention the pungency of language — 'gobshite' abundant — and of course the question of whether Coyne will or won't survive to enjoy the comforts of domesticity." Kirkus Reviews
"Coyne is a majestic creation....If Flann O'Brien's lunatic Professor De Selby had genetically engineered a cross between the novels of Raymond Chandler and those of Patrick McCabe, this is what the progeny might well have looked like." The Times (London)
In a cinema verite style, Hugo Hamilton decimates cliches of cops and robbers with doses of smoldering Irish sectarianism and the realities of a seedy, postindustrial Dublin.
In a cinema verite style, Hugo Hamilton decimates cliches of cops and robbers with doses of smoldering Irish sectarianism and the realities of a seedy, postindustrial Dublin. "Coyne is a majestic creation.... If Flann O'Brien's lunatic Professor De Selby had genetically engineered a cross between the novels of Raymond Chandler and those of Patrick McCabe, this is what the progeny might well have looked like." — The Times (London)
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