A letdown after Gill's superb The Death of a Joyce Scholar (1989) but, even so, a bruising evaluation of Irish politics, marital disharmonies/ambiguities, and of first-time fatherhood for the over-50 crowd. Inspector McGarr of Dublin's Murder Squad is now sent to the posh Parknasilla Hotel in Sneem to investigate the ``untimely death'' of banker/philanthropist/politician Paddy Power, whose autopsy indicates that someone tinkered with his heart medicine. Among the suspects: his former partner in Eire Bank; his trusted assistant and onetime lover; his doctor and good friend; and political opponents averse to his plan to put Ireland on an even footing with the world market. Plus, surely, his ex-wife. Meanwhile, on the q.t., Eire Bank's president is entering into negotiations to sell the bank to the Japanese; a leading politician is assassinated by the crazed doctor; and McGarr is pulled off the case and disgraced for the debacle that follows. With an assist from his acerbic wife Noreen and his four best officers, McGarr survives terrorist torture and, employing a bit of Machiavellian intrigue himself, wraps up Paddy's murder and its bloody aftermath. Well-written but dour, with enough subplots for half a dozen mysteries. In all: a somewhat sad, cynical look at contemporary Irish politics.