Tadhg Maguire wakes to find himself spooning a dead man. The stiff is Tony Marino, lieutenant to mobster Aldo Pirelli. It doesn't matter how the local enforcer ended up between Tadhg’s sheets, Pirelli is liable to leap to the wrong conclusion and demand rough justice. The right thing to do would be to call the cops. The sensible thing to do would be to disappear. Forever. The only other option is to get rid of the body and pretend it was never there. No body, no crime. What he needs is a couple of friends to help dispose of the heavy corpse. Little do Tadhg’s friends know what kind of reward they’ll receive for their selfless act – threatened, chased, shot at, and kidnapped with demands to return a million dollars they don’t possess. By mid-afternoon Tadhg is the most wanted man in America. Not bad for someone who’d never previously had so much as parking ticket. If he survives the day he’s resigned to serving time, but not before he saves his friends from the same fate.
It’s a bit of a tricky review to write this one is. So we’ll have a quick Q&A session to see if that can help instead.
Is it a straight-forward crime or mystery novel? Err, not really in my opinion, as the author intentionally strives for large doses of humour throughout. As a black comedy it’s superb, with likeable good guys (for the most part) going that extra mile in the name of friendship. As a mystery or crime story with a ratcheting sense of danger and fear for the safety of our intrepid band of brethren, less so. Despite an ever increasing number of villains joining in the hunt for the missing $1 million, all brandishing a splendid array of firepower and inflicting regular doses of pain and injury on Taghg and his gang, I didn’t really feel at any time that their lives were in jeopardy.
Did the lack of tension or danger then detract from my enjoyment of the book? Actually no, as the author gave his main characters sufficient doses of likeability, charm, intelligence, stupidity, naivety and frailty to off-set this. I viewed it more as a comedy than an out and out crime read.
Did the novel amuse, entertain, enthral and captivate you? Did you skip meals and bunk off work, in a heightened state of anxiety to try and finish in a record time? Yes, yes, hmmm...sort of, no – that’s too strong, no and no. Enjoyable, amusing, fun, interesting, a few laugh out loud moments and a few moments of quiet contemplation whilst I considered my own friendships. I read it leisurely, dragging it out over the best part of the week.
What niggled about the book? Nothing especially, some characters annoyed and irritated but I think that was the author’s intention. As the book progressed and Tadhg’s longest day unfolded, some previous unknowns were revealed, offering explanations for some earlier behaviour.
Would you read more about the characters, more from this author? Yes and yes again. I’d happily re-visit Tadgh at some point in the future, if there’s a sequel...are you listening, Rob? That said, I wouldn’t be unhappy reading more of the author’s fiction with or without Maguire and his cronies. But maybe Tadgh on a road trip to Mexico, or Cuba.....
Overall impression then? 4 from 5, a welcome diversion from my usual fare of grittier crime books. A wee bit like the first Dortmunder novel I read from Donald Westlake – The Hot Rock.
Rob was kind enough to offer up this copy for me to read and review - cheers.