The Midnight Choir, by Gene Kerrigan. Published 2007 by Europa Editions.
The Midnight Choir
is a great crime novel and depicts a whole seedy world of Irish crime,
but it is also one of the bleakest books I've read in a while.
Basically, this book can be summed up thusly: Life sucks, then you die a
horrible meaningless death and nothing changes.
heart is the story of Garda Inspector Harry Synnott, who a long time
ago got involved in an IRA-related cop killing and ratted out some
fellow officers for police brutality. The police still got their man,
but they may not have gotten to the truth, and Synnott didn't exactly
make friends. Years pass and Synnott, stuck in place career-wise, is
offered a shiny sinecure out of the country, if only he can charm the
politician making the appointment. On his plate is a rape case and a
jewelry theft and things seem to be going well except that another old
murder case is about to come back from the dead and ruin everything.
up in all this is Dixie Peyton, a desperate woman struggling to keep
her head above water, and a gang lord named Lar Mackendrick, deranged
with grief at the loss of his brother. Dixie needs money and a way out
of her troubles; she tries to sell a tip to Synnott regarding the
aforementioned Mackendrick but things don't exactly go her way. Things
don't go anyone's way in this story, unless you're a bad guy or dead and
nothing worse can happen to you.
The Midnight Choir is
set in contemporary Dublin, as the Celtic Tiger economic boom was
fading but hadn't yet gone completely bust. Everyone's on the downswing,
except the criminals. I have to say, Kerrigan draws a pretty convincing
picture of all the ways life can go wrong. Poor Dixie. Just when she
thinks she's going to skip the country with the payout cash from the
corrupt cop and kidnap her kid from foster care- well, I won't spoil it,
but, well, you know. It's not pretty. I felt for Dixie. Kerrigan really
makes us sympathize with this very troubled and deeply messed up young
woman. Synnott I didn't feel about one way or the other. But Dixie and
her friend Shelly get my sympathy.
Anyway I'd recommend The Midnight Choir
to noir fans and anyone else interested in contemporary Irish
literature that isn't about shamrocks and sunshine. So if you're a Maeve
Binchy reader this probably isn't for you. I admire Kerrigan's artistry
and reportage but man was this a downer.
This is my 15th book for 2013's Europa Challenge. I may not make it to my goal of 24 but I'm back
on the wagon anyway.