Monday, April 13, 2009

Adrian McKinty’s Dead Trilogy

This is a repost in honor of the upcoming April 27th release of Adrian McKinty's kick-ass thriller: Fifty Grand.

You need to buy these books:

Dead I Well May Be
The Dead Yard
The Bloomsday Dead

Yes, I’m serious. You need to go out and buy these books.

Adrian McKinty is a great writer and a great storyteller. With most fiction, you’re lucky if you get one or the other. If you want to marvel at lyricism, clever turns of phrase, and complex, murky characters, you read the literary. If you want to escape and go on a thrill ride, you read the commercial. But you need not pick and choose with McKinty. You can have your cake and eat it too.

McKinty’s stories have been described as literary action thrillers. As accurate as that may be, the description doesn’t do his novels, or his prose, justice. Simply put, the guy knows his way around the keyboard. His approach to storytelling is quasi-conversational. You feel like you’re sitting down to a pint with him at the bar as he unveils the latest in a long-line of misadventures. But at the same time, his stories abound with moments of sheer literary brilliance that no amount of alcohol could produce.

McKinty, I suspect, is a guy who’s lived quite an interesting life, and his writing is all the more informed and hard-hitting because of it. No ivory towers for this author.

I’ve just finished his Dead Trilogy, three stories chronicling the life and times of his wonderfully-flawed, but cool-as-hell, protagonist Michael Forsythe. I’m tempted to call the character an author surrogate, but that would be presumptuous on my part. Forsythe is complicated, brooding, at times frightening, usually one step ahead of a bullet, exceptionally violent, but always likeable. I can’t decide if he merits a classification of hero or anti-hero. But that’s what makes him so damned great.

The three stories are ostensibly action thrillers, but unlike most other commercial writers, McKinty never falls into the typical trappings of the genre. Dead I Well May Be and its two sequels (The Dead Yard and The Bloomsday Dead) are not repackaged variations of each other. Thankfully, Forsythe isn’t charged with tracking a different serial killer each outing. He’s not approached by a gorgeous blonde and asked to investigate the disappearance of her husband/boyfriend/brother at the beginning of every story. He’s given different task in each tale and the unique challenges he faces serve to round out his character. Don’t get me wrong though: all three books are replete with carnage, mayhem (in the literal legal sense), double-crosses, twists, love, sex, and violence.

McKinty’s prose fires on all cylinders. And he pulls no punches when it comes to plotting. There is violence in his world, and more violence, and more violence, but it always serves the story. Along those lines, McKinty takes a lot of narrative risks, especially in The Dead Yard, but they all pay off. He allows the story to go where it has to.

Each Dead Trilogy novel contemplates its own issues, speaks its own voice, and has its own narrative drive. By the end, you’ve gone on quite a journey with Michael Forsythe, from upstart mobster, to mole, to detective of sorts, as McKinty unleashes his prose on us. I can’t recommend these novels enough.

Now seriously, go buy these books. Or you're in for a Belfast six-pack.


adrian mckinty said...


Thanks mate, I really appreciate it.

You can probably tell that these books were fun for me to write. Especially the first one which had big chunks of autobiography in it (not the killings and stuff, I hasten to add). And if its fun to write and fun to read well then everybody's happy. Well, nearly everybody

Cheers mate


Brian O'Rourke said...


No need to thank me. I just call them like I see them, and I honestly believe that people need to buy your books. A lot people lament the state of fiction, and art in general, these days, but your stuff is proof positive that there are people out there producing great work and taking the novel as art form seriously.

My wife and I both could tell that you had a lot of fun writing these books. It comes through in your prose and serves as a nice balance to all the grit and violence and anxiety of the stories themselves.

You keep writing them, and we'll keep reading them. Can't wait for Fifty Grand.

seanag said...

Brian, that's a great review. It captures a lot that is hard to articulate about both the character and the writing. You're a perceptive reader. I like you and your wife emphasizing the fun, because there is actually quite a bit of humor--not in the situations so much, but in the voice.

Rita Vetere said...

replete with carnage, mayhem...double-crosses, twists, love, sex, and violence

You had me at "carnage". I've added all four titles to my buy list. Michael Forsythe sounds like my kind of guy.


seanag said...

You won't be disappointed, Rita!

Brian O'Rourke said...

Hey Rita,

I think you'll enjoy Adrian's work. He also spends a lot of time on his blog, which just received a Grasshopper Award.

I'll be chatting with you in 15!

seanag said...

Sorry I can't catch your chat, you guys. Headed for a meeting right after work. Hope it goes well!

v word=laters

adrian mckinty said...


Thanks again.

You know I was thinking about Rory McIroy yesterday. That kid has made more money this year than I have in my entire life. But then it is a combination of hard work and god given talent so you cant complain.

Jenna said...

Yup, Brian is right. The Dead books are THAT good. I think we're going to do a joint post on here eventually, so I won't get in the specifics right now, but I went crazy for the books (and for Michael F.) after reading Dead I Well May Be and NEEDED to get my hands on the remaining books immediately. I don't think Brian understood the urgency... that is, until he finished DIWMB and immediately started in on The Dead Yard.

I stayed up late into the night, reading at a small lamp in bed. I occasionally woke Brian with a burst of spontaneous laughter - but I couldn't help it. The books are not only smart and thrilling, they are funny too. I want, nay, I NEED more Michael Forsythe.

Yeah, I just said "nay" and now it is preserved for ever and ever on the internet. But I'm not going back and deleting it because that's just not how I roll.

seanag said...

Jenna, Brian sings your praises pretty much every other post he makes, but it's so nice to 'hear' your voice in all this.

And, yes, we need to get some girl power going here, because there are a lot of things that will appeal to those of us with shall we say less machismo instincts than what the publishing industry might think his natural fan base has. Nice accent on on the humor, by the way.

Did I say girl power? Nay--I meant Woman Power, Grrlfriend.

V word=toughtee, which I like.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Adrian -

Well, you have to factor in all those travel expenses Rory's incurred ;) But give him another year and he'll have made more money than you, me, and the wives combined.

Then again, 50G IS coming out this month...

Jenna said...

Seana, Thanks for the welcome! I read the blog religiously, but haven't commented all that much. I don't think this qualifies me as a lurker, however, since I yell my comments to Brian from the next room while he's typing.

I should also mention that after I finished the Dead trilogy, I had to read Hidden River and found that to be incredible as well. Just a lot of good storytelling.

seanag said...

Jenna, it does seem a little weird for me to welcome you to your husband's blog, but I'm glad that you read it. And as for lurking, well, my guess is that more people do that than not.

I have a few more McKinty titles to go, but was much encouraged to see that even the hard to get ones are available in my friendly neighborhood library. I am not rushing through them, because I figure I am still going to be reading them faster than he can write them.

Are you guys on Good Reads? Because it's time to start encouraging people to post ratings and reviews on Fifty Grand there as well. And of course, Amazon, though I'm not sure if my indie loyalties will really let me do that. But we shall see.

And while we're on the subject, Brian, where can we rate and comment on The Unearthed? I haven't looked into it yet because I still have the last part to go-- I apparently decided to read it during one of the more tumultuous periods of my life. But I got my taxes done today, so maybe I'll be able to sneak it in tonight or tomorrow...

Brian O'Rourke said...

Hey Seana,

The Unearthed is only available through Lyrical Press's online bookstore right now. In a month or so, it should migrate to the other online vendors. So as for rating it somewhere, I guess my blog is the only place for now.

So I take it you're not a tax protestor? :)

Brian O'Rourke said...


Forgot to say that yes, I'm on Goodreads but haven't spent much time on the website. Which basically means I signed up and haven't been back since. I think the work server might block the site too, which doesn't help and is very strange, as blogger isn't blocked.

I'll have to get on there tonight and poke around.

seanag said...

Yeah, politically speaking, I probably should be or at least should have been a tax protester, but since this year at least they owe me money, I'm not sure it would mean much anyway. I've had friends who have been, though, and it seems to end up being more of a hassle for them than a problem for the government.

I actually believe in taxes, though. I just wish more of them would go toward things like health and education.

As for Good Reads, I had sort of the same pattern, but now a group of assorted friends are on it and as I get their updates, it inspires me to go to the site more and post or comment.