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by Alan Glynn
Faber & Faber, November 2009
480 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0571250033

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Emerald noir appears to be the new black, so to speak, at the moment, thanks to the likes of St Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Gene Kerrigan. You can add Alan Glynn's WINTERLAND to the roll of honour.

It's one of those books that immerses you from the start. Glynn tells his story in the present tense and usually I'm fairly cynical about writers using this technique, as it often jars and seems overly precious. In this case, though, it gives the book an immediacy and makes you feel you're at Gina Rafferty's side all through.

Gina's the investigator in WINTERLAND. She's an ordinary young woman with her own software development firm that's struggling in the recession. When two of her family with the same name die on the same night, she sets out to uncover what really happened.

The deaths of her cousin and her brother both named Noel aren't anything more than they seem, if you believe the Guards. Gina doesn't, so she focuses on proving that there was more to her cousin's death than gangland feuds, and that there was something suspicious about the car crash which killed her engineer brother.

Her questions bring her into contact with painkiller-popping developer Paddy Norton. And he has history with ambitious politician Larry Bolger, who's tipped to be the next Taioseach. And then there's Mark Griffin, the only survivor in his family of a car crash which involved Bolger's late brother.

WINTERLAND is a vivid snapshot of a city and a nation where the Celtic Tiger has lost its teeth and where the recession is really beginning to bite. And it shows, too, the uneasy bedfellows co-habiting from the worlds of politics, business, crime and terrorism.

Glynn has worked out that understatement and quiet menace work better than a gore-fest. His tight and measured storytelling survives a slightly rushed ending to deliver a book that's clear-eyed, intelligent and thoroughly gripping.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, November 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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