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by Andrew Nugent
St Martin's Minotaur, July 2006
228 pages
ISBN: 0312327617

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

SECOND BURIAL FOR A BLACK PRINCE is the second in Andrew Nugent's Dublin-based police procedural series. But Lennon, Molly and Quilligan, who so enlivened the first book, are much more in the background this time, as the focus is on the African community in Ireland's capital city.

A young African man is found dead in the mountains outside of Dublin. His leg has been amputated and even though the job was done cleanly under anaesthetic, the sewing up is rudimentary.

The dead man was an immigrant from Nigeria called Shad, who owned a restaurant in Dublin. His younger brother Jude and an orphan boy called Pita are inconsolable. The police have to break through the reserve of the African community as they try to track down the killer. But Jude and Pita are determined to do some investigating of their own.

You don't read Nugent for his flawless plotting -- you'll spot the whodunit coming from quite some way off. The police are all terribly nice chaps, but of the manyana tendency. Most bizarre is towards the end when Shad's killer is being sought but appears to have disappeared. Someone has a clue as to where the murderer might be, but instead of rushing to the scene, the answer is 'we'll go tomorrow.'

In fact, the police take a back seat for far too much of the book. Lennon, who led the inquiry in THE FOUR COURT MURDERS, is seen once or twice at his desk. Quilligan, the amiable art expert from a traveller background, is used as a comparison for racism in society. Molly is happily married to her art expert Jan-Hein and appears periodically only to beguile Jude and little Pita, who are smitten by her.

What's missing in this book is the playfulness, humour and love of language that sprang off the pages in THE FOUR COURTS MURDER and made it such a delightful debut book. At times, the sequel feels more like an anthropological study of Africa, thinly disguised as a crime novel.

Nugent is a Catholic priest who has spent time in Africa, and that knowledge shines through in the book and makes it worth your time. His affection and humanity light up what is otherwise a fairly average mystery.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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