So admits Michael Forsythe, an illegal immigrant escaping the troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland. But young Michael is strong and fearless and clever, just the fellow to be tapped by Darkey, a crime boss, to join a gang of Irish thugs struggling against the rising Dominican powers in Harlem and the Bronx. The time is pre-Giuliani New York, when crack rules the city, squatters live furtively in ruined buildings, and hundreds are murdered each month. Michael and his lads tumble through the streets, shaking down victims, drinking hard, and fighting for turf, block by bloody block.
Dodgy and observant, not to mention handy with a pistol, Michael is soon anointed by Darkey as his rising star. Meanwhile Michael has very inadvisably seduced Darkey's girl, Bridget, saucy, fickle, and irresistible. Michael worries that he's being followed, that his affair with Bridget will be revealed. He's right to be anxious; when Darkey discovers the affair, he plans a very hard fall for young Michael, a gambit devilish in its guile, murderous in its intent.
But Darkey fails to account for Michael's toughness and ingenuity or the possibility that he might wreak terrible vengeance upon those who would betray him.
A natural storyteller with a gift for dialogue, McKinty introduces to readers a stunning new noir voice, dark and stylish, mythic and violent, complete with an Irish lilt.
©2003 Adrian McKinty; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A profoundly satisfying book from a major new talent, and one of the best crime fiction debuts of the year." (Booklist)
Whom do I praise first, the author or the reader? This is a first rate collaboration. Adrian McKinty provided a wonderful, literary tale of betrayal and revenge, more betrayal, more revenge and more again. Gerard Doyle took that tale, personalized the character of worldly-wise, 19-year-old Michael, and related the story as if it were his own. Thanks to his spot-on delivery, we feel Michael's joy and despair and everything in between. It's not edge-of-your seat suspense and there's not a lot of mystery. The description implies more action than there really is, but it's a doggone good story read extremely well. I hope there's more coming down the pike from these two.
My God what a good book. Five stars isn't enough. McKinty is truly gifted as a writer - great dialog, the characters are fully developed and the plot twists seem fully believable once enough is revealed so that you see what's going on. There're a couple of scenes involving an imaginary world on a ceiling (I know this sounds weird but it isn't) that are handled so skillfully that I had to back up and listen to them again.
Two forewarnings: this isn't really a mystery story. Crime story doesn't actually seem descriptive either. I don't know how to categorize it but it is amazing. Secondly - once past the first three hours or so of the book, you won't want to go to work or do anything that will interfere with finishing the book. Up until then you're still picking up background information, trust me, it zooms along soon enough.
The guy doing the reading is really good as well, you can easily imagine that it's a story being told to you directly over a few pints over a long night in the pub.
I selected this book because it was chosen by Audible readers as one of the most addictive series offered. So I expected a riveting read, and a character I'd want to know more about if I was to become addicted. I certainly got both with this one. The protagonist is a study in the unexpected, a brutal Irish thug with an education and a penchant for brooding sweet description that contrasts so utterly with his actions that this reader was taken aback. The protagonist is ruthless, remorseless, cruel, vengeful...yet not impossible to empathize with - and what happens to him is even more unexpected and shocking than the havoc he wreaks upon others. This is not a book where horrifying descriptions of savagery send the reader reeling--
so when I write "savage" and "brutal" I want to make that clear, this is not the kind of writer who aims for squeamishness and shock in terms of blood and gore flowing. This is an intelligent, brooding read, the narrator is exceptional and yes-- it passed the test of addictive read with this reader- I downloaded the next book as soon as I finished this one.
What a great concept: take a basically nice guy and detail the slow transformation into a nice gangster. This is a wonderful book that will make you cringe at the violence, laugh out loud at the first person observations and stay riveted to a driving plot. Superbly read. A classic...the best bet of the year so far!
Just looking for something to distract me...
I listened to this book nearly two years ago and I still think about the story and how it made me feel. I decided to listen and enjoy it all over again - that is when I realized I had not written a review. A book you remember for two years is worthy of a review.
I really liked the twists and turns. I read this while painting a room in my house and remember gasping and painting and gasping and painting. (This book sure made painting a room enjoyable.) There is a lot of profanity but it really frames the character's personalities. I am getting the other two books! Excellent.
This is the first book in the trilogy of Michael Forsythe. It does not disappoint. The wit of the main character reminds me a bit of some of my other favorites - Nelson DeMille's John Corey or Lawrence Block's Keller. The humor comes in surprising places, but it flows very well with who Michael Forsythe is. He is a complete character who will never bore you.
I eagerly listend to all three books and was very happy the same narrator performed them all. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, a good story. Adrian McKinty is underrated.
It may be my favorite. It cannot be read in print because the Irish accent is so appealing, and the storyline is top flight.
Irish character's impressions of NYC.
Excellent Irish accent for me, I am no expert though.
Irish noir storms NYC underworld
It is the first book of a trilogy, and is the best one, although completing trilogy highly recommended. Caution on violence, it is not gratuitous but pretty harrowing.
Actor/director/teacher. Live most of the time in Beijing now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
The Belfast dialect is about as unlovely, even grating, as any in the world. Doyle does it faithfully, and that is probably the most painful part of this book. Still, it was so wonderfully written and accumulated so much power and momentum as it went along, that I could not help sticking with it.
I am surprised to see so many people put off by the supposed inhuman and cold nature of the main character. I personally found him remarkably tender and appealing for the most part--a deeply moral character sucked into a cesspit by his instinct for self preservation and a talent for survival, he kills to stay alive and to keep faith with the betrayed. The innocence is put away but everything which comes after is colored by it. I have only read the first book, so perhaps his character skews more sharply toward the amoral in the remaining books. I look forward to finding out.
It takes a while for the story to roll, but McKinty's eye for evocative detail and the power with which he draws us into the underbelly of the upper Manhattan ghettos of the 1980's was more than enough to fascinate this listener. Once the book moved to Mexico, there was no way to put it down.
I was expecting a serious gorefest and a middle of the road "The Godfather" wannabe book based on some of the other reviews. This is simply not accurate.
Yes, the book contained violence. But, no more so than many X-Files episodes that I've seen and certainly less than your average Sopranos episode. It's an adult book about the gritty Irish mob underworld, so be prepared. Of course there is violence, swearing, and, gasp, even some S-E-X!
That aside, it was an excellent listen. Suspenseful without keeping me up all night, colourful without being self-absorbed, and violent, but not outside the PM newscasts.
The narration was excellent with non-annoying accents, character differentiations, and breat timing and style.
The action moves fairly quickly in some areas and then is slow and thoughtful where it needs to be.
I whole heartedly recommend this for someone looking for a good all around listen.
This book is terrific! I rank it among my favorites.
I immediately went on the the sequel "The Dead Yard" and can't wait for the next one.
You should definitely listen to this one before "The Dead Yard".
If you have thin skin with language and violence, you should stay away. Otherwise, it is alliterated throughout the story perfectly.
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