This story takes place amidst the backdrop of the 1922 Irish Civil War. There is a battle for supremacy between the Free State supporters and the Republicans or Irregulars.
It's been five months since Sean O'Keefe was demobbed from the RIC, he is no longer a Peeler and he spends his time drinking whisky and betting, he's disillusioned, his father is ailing and Sean is just drifting along without purpose.
However, when he becomes aware that his father owes the local brothel owner an unspecified debt, Sean undertakes to repay the debt to owner Ginny Dolan. Her teenage son Nicholas has gone missing. There are grave fears for the idealistic young boy who they suspect has become affiliated with the Irregulars, or at worst dead. Sean and "Just Albert", Ginny's right hand man set out to find Nicholas. However it is a far from easy task and their search takes them through the poverty and misery of the backstreets of Dublin. Sean and Albert must navigate their way through both sides of the conflict to find Nicholas. It becomes a search fraught with difficulty and danger.
This is a grittier book than Peeler. Whilst it's a darker story it is also rich in time, place and atmosphere. Dublin is a grim city, poverty is rife, children beg in the streets for a crust and life can be worthless. It's a violent but fascinating time.
The characters are vivid and well drawn from the sympathetic Sean O'Keefe, the quietly contained and lethal "Just Albert" to the chillingly cold and brutal Detective Dillon.
I thought that Peeler was quite brilliant, but this book surpasses it. There is a devilishly nice twist at the end that I didn't see coming. A wonderful Irish writer with a fascinating story to tell.