For fans of Gene Kerrigan wondering if the conclusion to his Dublin Triology, “The Rage,” lives up to its predecessors “Little Criminals” and “The Midnight Choir” have no fear. It may even surpass. Kerrigan’s Dublin is as conflicted, corrupt and complex as before. Marie and Barbara have both reviewed this book more than capably, so rather than try to re-write their already great reviews I will simply tell you to check them out if you have not yet. I will then focus on what I thought to be the best aspects of The Rage for me.
First, the characters. Kerrigan is a master of sympathetic criminals and flawed authority figures. Maura Coady, a former nun whose role in the abuse scandals that rocked Ireland, manages with one phone call to set the gears of Kerrigan’s interconnected story in motion. Bob Tidey gives the reader the determined, if imperfect garda (cop) who finally realizes that the right thing and the legal thing are not always one and the same. Finally, the wonderfully neurotic and emotional Vincent Naylor, who is easily one of Kerrigan’s best villains. His measured, safe pacing and planning contrasted to his reaction to the fallout when those plans fall apart is fascinating to read. For those who have read more by Kerrigan, you get the bonus of seeing a few repeat characters (Garda Rose Cheney from “The Midnight Choir!”) continue to appear in “The Rage” as well.
Second, the pacing and plotting. Back stories and motivations unfold amid a breakneck-paced plot. The heist scene reads like a perfect steadycam shot from any film I’ve seen. I barely had a moment to catch my breath as I read through. I was nervous for everyone involved. “The Midnight Choir” trusted readers to follow and track multiple storylines and characters with connections that sometimes revealed themselves only at the tail-end of the work. “Little Criminals” followed a more straightforward storyline. “The Rage” masterfully blends both, bouncing between perspectives quickly without losing coherency or potency.
Third and final, the details. I am aware that it helps a good deal that I read prior works by Kerrigan, giving me a primer course not only on the state of Dublin in general but also on Kerrigan’s vision of that Dublin. Nobody likes to get a history lesson while they’re enjoying a work of fiction. Kerrigan must understand that, because the way he interweaves the necessary information a reader needs about Dublin is just so seamless. His world is fully realized, from the homes and apartments where our characters live down to the strip malls they shop.
I highly recommend “The Rage.” As I read more Europa (I am up to 58 now!), I love the relationships these books create when you get to read more from an author you liked the first time. If you haven’t line up a Kerrigan streak. You won’t be sorry you did.