Serial killings are mingled with found pieces of serial crime fiction in a self-reflective—but ultimately navel-gazing—look at detective stories, Ireland-style.
A man heads to Glentree to deliver a lecture on “The Trivialization of Death in the Modern Detective Story,” and it’s a rainy night, and the turn-out’s no good, and the lecturer convinces the buxom youthful female organizer to ride home with him, and it sure doesn’t look good for her. All this is from a manuscript found in the grave of a dead man, and the woman in the manuscript, who really exists, is missing. Enter our aspiring young detective, Kristina Galetti, the type who sunbathes topless in the south of France when she gets the chance. Not long after Kris gets a hold of the manuscript, the missing woman turns up dead, with her ears sheared off, and there’s another manuscript with another death and more about the love of narrative crime drama, and it’s looking like our killer is . . . a detective writer. More manuscripts are found in more graves, and McCadden, Galetti’s boss, argues that “Probably the serial killer explanation is just a lazy mental groove, all too easy to slip into these days. Probably there are fifteen separate killers.” No one really believes that, but Kris is the only one—perhaps because of the hard time she had becoming a female Irish detective—to hold out on the notion that the killer is actually female. Naturally, Galetti turns out to be right—as she gives us a portrait of what life’s like inside the “guards”—but what will happen when our savvy writer of crime fiction, a shapeshifter by necessity, turns his or her sights on Kris herself? Could Galetti wind up finding herself written into the manuscript that tells us “Death, after all, is only significant as a corrupter of what is living. And what the detective story really trivializes is life itself.”
Probably a bit too much thinking for the audience it hopes to attract.