5 days ago
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.