A righteous Dublin detective digs deep into a murder with political and international roots.
Narrator Thomas Barrett begins his tale with the sad murder of Larry McMenamin, whose work in Dublin’s poorest neighborhoods as an anti-drug activist brought him a truckload of enemies. Barrett had spoken to McMenamin on the phone only days earlier about the pending prosecution of a high-powered politician named Brian Toomey. Barrett is convinced of Toomey’s guilt in a case involving bombs in Northern Ireland but fears that the slick operator will slip the noose. Barrett has a prickly ex-wife, a mother fading away in a rest home and a deceased father who worked for decades as a journalist and protected Toomey’s secret homosexuality. Barrett and his partner Murray (“Squirrel”) begin their complicated probe by questioning the handful of men who’d recently menaced McMenamin. They also, after uncovering information retrieved from computers, head to Amsterdam to look into the sex trade. But the investigation gains traction only when Barrett meets an imposing transvestite named Miss Katie, who holds deep and dangerous secrets very close to her enhanced chest.
Barry, aka John Maher (The Lucky Penny, 2007, etc.), writes with grit and crackle, and the narrative ricochets briskly from past to present and professional to personal. Warning: A heavy use of idioms and the intricacies of Irish politics may daunt some American readers.