Tuesday, 15 July 2008
IT’S such a great idea – a thriller based on Ulysses.
And it starts out well: “State LY Plum P Buck Mulligan” reads the note handed to the hotel shamus.
It translates thus: “In stateroom LY (that is, the fiftieth floor, suite Y), a Plum (in other words, a drunk American) named Mr P Buck was creating a Mulligan (ie a disturbance).
And it ends well, in Joycean tradition, with that trailing sibilant “Yes.”
The middle is more problematic. Michael Forsyth, McKinty’s hero, is the kind of Northerner who wears crossed Union Jack and Red Hand in the fanlight of his little mind, and absolutely hates all things Irish.
“In my eyes the Garda Síochána was only a notch or two above the Irish Army and, as an ex-member of the British Army, I had nothing but contempt for that body,” he writes.
“Any squaddie worth his salt would join the Irish Guards in London; any peeler up to scuds would get into one of the big metropolitan police forces across the water. Irish coppers and soldiers were second-rate.”
Not, perhaps, the perfect note to strike if you’re aiming to lure Joyceans, who adore Dublin, Ireland and all about the country.
Between ‘plump Buck Mulligan’ and ‘yes’, it’s an orgy of killing, interspersed with paranoid ravings, self-hatred and a bit more killing.
The effect is curiously anaesthetic. After a while the reader stops bothering to notice new characters – after all, Mike’s going to kill them in a minute.
Reading, you get the feeling that McKinty is ‘writing away from’ his subject – that he really wants to write about something else. From the wrongness of his take on the IRA characters (hellfire and respectability), I suspect that he wants to be writing about the UDA.
If you like thrillers with a high body count, this is for you.
Posted by Pageturners at 21:07