Monday, 3 March 2008

Confessions of a Fallen Angel by Ronan O'Brien

Hodder Headline Ireland

A PROMISING debut by Ronan O'Brien, a solicitor with the DPP. O'Brien brings his experience of criminal cases to bear in the creation of a creepy villain, the psychopathic Norman Valentine.

Norman is the next-door neighbour and former jail associate of Charlie, our narrator and hero.

Little does Norman know how unwise it is to get next to Charlie, who has already died twice, and has the eerie ability to dream death forecasts.

The hapless Charlie's first victim is his best pal, Owen, followed by the nice lady librarian who takes the troubled teen under her wing.

When Charlie accidentally mashes the next librarian under a stack of bookshelves (in a misunderstanding over a defaced copy of Moby Dick), he's sent to the slammer.

The humour is the book's best thing - Charlie's wry descriptions and vicious banter will make readers burst out laughing.

Subtlety takes a rest and the dark fun recedes when Ashling appears. Ashling is the woman of Charlie's dreams - which is unfortunate for her, since his dreams soon turn to the familiar subject of violent death.

Charlie moves to a diet of alcoholic self-blame, with a shot of black humour on the rocks to wash it down. But soon he's dreaming of a new love.

There are great characters here, mostly the really nasty ones. And there's plenty of slapstick, and dislikeably hilarious characters.

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