Thursday, November 14, 2019

Heard: "Dead I May Well Be" by Adrian McKinty

Heard: Dead I May Well Be by Adrian McKinty, 2003, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

This past summer Don Winslow went on a long term Twitter fan boy rave for McKinty. I've enjoyed the McKinty novels but the latest and greatest novel, The Chain, was out and I took this one. This is an earlier novel and not as strong as his other work.

A crime novel to a prison novel to a revenge novel. Michael Forsythe had to leave Northern Ireland after getting kicked off the dole. He moved to New York to get a job with a distant relative. He's had a few jobs but now works as muscle for an America-Irish mobster nicknamed Darkey. Michael is 20-years-old, banging the boss's much younger girlfriend, not enjoying his work that much, an autodidact, and has a dishonorable British Army discharge because who the hell expects a mouthy 16-year-old to get along in the damn Army?

It's 1992 and Michael lives in a mob provided shithole apartment in Harlem. Michael is a friendly fella and gets along with most people. When a fellow strong-armer gets beat into the hospital another Irishman (actually from Ireland) crook gets the small crew together pledging revenge on the guy who did the beating. Michael and Co. bust into his apartment and give him a Northern Ireland (or IRA) six pack.: a bullet each to the ankles, knees and elbows.

Michael did some small time crime and IRA hanging-around before he joined the Army, but he is sickened by his participation in the shooting. But, Darkey is very very pleased that the young guys took the initiative to defend turf and reputation. Things go on and after honset-to-God shoot out Michael is praised again by Darkey. Michael is wary about Darkey, especially since Michael is porking Darkey's girlfriend Bridget. But everything seems okey-dokey and Michael and three others are sent on a job to Mexico.

The novel then takes a sharp turn into prison drama, Until this point the novel had been a standard "immigrant in the urban jungle". NYC crime rates in 1992 are through the roof. Michael hangs out with his Serbian building superintendent. Michael wants to make more money. Michael collects extortion and gambling payments. Michael does plenty of drinking with Irish crooks and meets women in bars. When four of the men are arrested for drug smuggling they have no trial and are stuck in dank Mexican Prison. Under horrible conditions a couple men die and Michael and a pal make a daring escape.

Only Michael survives the escape and somehow survives a hurricane and days and says of stumbling through a jungle in Southern Mexico. He pledges revenge on Darkey and Darkey's lieutenants and makes his way back to NYC after a lot of travel and an amputated foot.

Screw it. I'm not going to give any more plot rundown. The story is enjoyable but the split in the story from NYC to Mexico to NYC revenge be-bopped around too much. McKinty also has longer passages with Michael considering life, the universe, and the meaning of it all. I did not care for that stuff so much. But, with an audio book you can kinda zone out on the boring stuff.

I'd rate this novel as decent but recommend reading McKinty's later work like the Sean Duffy series which is much better.

1. I am fairly certain I've read or heard 2-3 of the Duffy novels but only see one in my notes.
2. this novel had me thinking of Cycle of Violence and Of Wee Sweetie Mice and Men by Colin Bateman. Irish crime novels with lots of humor. I read one or two more Bateman novels then could not find ones. I just checked and he published regularly for about 15 years. According to my magic internet box Bateman may have started TV or movie scripting and has not had a novel since 2014.

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