Lovers of rogue cop Pat Coyne's antics in the streets and pubs of a changing Dublin, amply supplied in Headbangers (p. 438), will find added amusements here as Coyne struggles against himself and a big-toothed murderer to protect his family. All is not well for our hero at the outset: he's on recovery leave from the constabulary after suffering internal injuries in a fire, has separated from his wife Carmel, and has let his only son Jimmy drift into reckless behavior—which in one morning's wee hours places the lad within sight of a murder. Jimmy steals the murderer's bag of dollars and becomes a suspect in the investigation, but Coyne is unaware of his boy's predicament. He has enough to do trying without success to patch things up with Carmel, whose New Age bent has turned her into a healer with “magic” stones, while he rails against a prosperous “new” Ireland seemingly bent on destroying the cityscapes and traditions he loves so well. He's a sputtering, smoldering pile waiting for a breeze; what finally lights him up is the sight of Carmel smooching with Dublin's most ruthless (and tasteless) real-estate developer. Coyne’s path of destruction takes him to (and through) the developer's door just as Jimmy falls into the clutches of the murderer, but Coyne manages to steer the police in the bad guys’ direction while carrying on with his own guerrilla activity: “useless” deeds that somehow heal and redeem him.
Richly, darkly comic—with details down to what everybody had for lunch—and a solid thriller as well. It’s the quirks of character, though, that prove most memorable.