Lots of good reasons for ex-cop Alex Lawson to flee Northern Ireland for Denver—a search for his lover’s murderer is only second best.
Put self-preservation at the top of the list. Suddenly, the woods around Carrickfergus, Alex’s hometown, are full of hard guys who take a jaundiced view of him. There’s Spider McKeenan, for instance, Alex’s snarling, vengeful dealer, who wants the 40 quid he’s owed for the bag of hutch Alex scored off him (“hutch” is Irish street talk for heroin, Alex’s addiction). There’s Commander Douglas of London’s Metropolitan Police, who’s made the trip to Carrickfergus because he needs Alex to rat out certain former colleagues in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Implacable in behalf of something called the Samson Inquiry—an attempt at internal clean-up—the hulking, ice-eyed copper scares the daylights out of Alex, who knows that his “former colleagues” will be gunning for him because they think he’ll crack and sing. And well he might, Alex being admittedly not the stuff of which heroes are made. Between a rock and a hard place, Alex would dearly love to be able to make himself scarce, but self-contained, parochial Carrickfergus isn’t a place where magic of that sort is readily worked. Still, eager to find greener pastures, he persuades the family Patawasti of Carrickfergus (by way of India) that their daughter Victoria’s death in Denver was a homicide, that he has the sleuthing skills to solve it, and that he should be hired to do so. In the process, he persuades himself that honor demands he take on the burden. Stateside he goes, where what awaits is enough to drench Carrickfergus in nostalgia.
A disappointment after last year’s splendid Dead I Well May Be as stylistic panache loses to over-the-top plotting.