Alphabet in crime fiction: Kerrigan

K Gene Kerrigan is an award-winning political journalist who has turned his hand to writing crime fiction. According to Wikipedia, "Mr. Kerrigan's journalism is hard-boiled and revealing, and he observes the goings-on and pretensions of those who wield political and financial power with a caustic eye, often with a weary and mordant humour." I think the same description can be applied to his three published novels, all of which I have enjoyed tremendously and reviewed for Euro Crime. From my reviews:

Little Criminals. "I was not sure I'd want to read a book about an Irish gang who kidnap a businessman's wife and demand a huge ransom. But, persuaded by great reviews by the authors of some of the blogs I regularly read, I decided to try it. And I am glad I did: it is excellent. The book opens in a small southern Irish village called Harte's Cross, where Frankie Crowe and his sidekick Martin Paxton unsuccessfully try to steal the takings of the local pub. The actions of that day don't feature again until the very end of the book, when their reverberations contribute to a climax that is like a Greek tragedy in its elements of history, fate and hubris."

The Midnight Choir. "I loved everything about this book. THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR is truly bleak, at times violent and disturbing, but always brilliant. The way in which the plots overlap and sometimes merge in a horridly inevitable cause and effect is masterly. Although I applaud the lack of sentimentality, I was glad that the reader is left with a spark of optimism in the shape of at least two police officers who know how to do the right thing."

Dark Times in the City. "Right from the first page, the reader is grabbed by the author's distinguishing mix of bleak noir, perfect attention to detail, atmosphere and lyricism – no hint of wordiness or sentimentality, but engaging one's emotions and attention right from the first page of poetic description, to the shattered illusions of the last."

Dark Times in the City was arguably the first book to describe the collapse of the "Irish tiger" economy (because of the delay between writing a novel and its publication, the author must have been remarkably prescient, as one might expect from an award-winning political journalist!). This book was also deservedly nominated for the CWA Golden Dagger in 2009, though personally I think it not quite as good as the first two novels. Still pretty spectacular, though.

Reviews of Little Criminals, Midnight Choir and  Dark Times in the City at the excellent blog of Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction.

Gene Kerrigan's columns in the Irish Independent
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Crime Fiction alphabet series at Petrona.

Mysteries in Paradise, home of the crime fiction alphabet. Visit this link if you would like to participate.

6 thoughts on “Alphabet in crime fiction: Kerrigan

  1. Thanks Maxine I have Dark Times on the shelf to be read next year. Although you didn’t have to be an award- winning political journalist to predict the collapse of the Irish Tiger economy. Most of the ‘holy dusters’, the little Irish ladies of advanced years, at Mrs Crime Scraps local church were predicting disaster for years. Their economic theory was based on old memories of Irish poverty and total disbelief at the money being spent without any thought for the future.
    The governments of Ireland , Iceland, Greece and the UK seem to have followed similar policies.

  2. Maxine – Thanks for this summary of Kerrigan’s work. It’s always fascinating to read crime fiction that comes from folks who’ve been in other professions. It lends a truly interesting perspective to their work.

  3. I always seem to like stuff written by former journalists (Daniel Silva, Matt Rees, Stieg Larsson) – seems to have the right sort of combination of realism and fiction so I will definitely keep my eye out for these (yet another new to me author)

  4. Norman, I think the older you are, the less you believe in any of these boomtime economies. I always thought that Dubai world thing seemed a bit, er, unlikely and now look at it. Most ordinary people are quite happy with a sober, safe bank (!!) or building society (!!) and a modest rate of interest. Too much to ask? It seems so.

  5. Bernadette – I, too, like crime fiction written by ex-journalists. I agree they tend to have good, lean writing skills as well as a broad dash of life experience. Michael Connelly is a big favourite, he’s written about how he translated from journalism to crime fiction. I haven’t read that work of his but I am fairly interested in doing so.

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