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by Gene Kerrigan
Harvill Secker, June 2006
352 pages
ISBN: 0436205874

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR is the kind of book that requires the reader to keep their wits about them. There are a number of plot strands which, at times, appear to be racing along on parallel tracks, destined never to meet. But somehow this dark and gritty book stays on the tracks.

Incidentally, you won't get much of an idea about what goes on by reading the blurb on the back cover of the book. It'll introduce you to the characters, sure, but at the heart of it all is Dublin Detective Inspector Harry Synnott, and he's the real reason why this is a must-read.

OK, let's get the rest out of the way. The book starts out in Galway with Garda Joe Mills 'persuading' a jumper to come down off a pub rood (we'll gloss over his methods, but suffice it to say they're not quite gentle touch policing!) The bloke isn't what you'd call talkative -- and is covered with someone else's blood.

Meanwhile, it's all happening in Dublin. Drug addict Dixie Peyton is desperate for cash, and threatens an American tourist at a cashpoint with a syringeful of blood which she claims is HIV+. Elsewhere among the scumbags, Joshua Boyce is sitting patiently in a rented flat, watching a jewellers and planning a raid. And gangster Lar MacKendrick has decided he has to get back on top of things following the murder of his brother Jo-Jo.

Synnott, though, and his colleague Rose Cheney, are in many ways the focus of the book. As THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR opens, they are on their way to interview a suspected rapist -- an unpleasant rich boy with a family to match. But their paths are soon entwined with those other cases.

It soon becomes apparent, though, that Synnott is a copper with a secret -- and you'll find yourself pondering a lot during this book whether his actions are right. You feel, though, in this violent world that a lot of compromises have to made, as well as spur of the moment decisions that in retrospect will haunt people for some time to come.

Author Gene Kerrigan is a talented storyteller, one who dolls out just the right amount of information to keep you hooked, but isn't so parsimonious that you get to the end thinking he hasn't played you fair. But the end is well weird -- it stops suddenly so that you feel like you go hurtling over a cliff. I had to check to make sure there weren't any pages missing in my copy!

THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR is a dark, compelling book to keep you reading well into the dark hours. It's a fantastic addition to the growing collection of Irish crime writing.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, June 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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