Posted: Friday, May 31, 2013, 8:41 am
Expertly plotted and peppered with gritty realism, "The Rage" offers a contemporary crime novel with the perfect blend of street smarts and tension.
Gene Kerrigan's latest novel, The Rage, won the coveted Crime Writers Association's Golden Dagger award in 2012. It's easy to see why. Kerrigan's plotting is deliciously intricate. His characters are of the flesh and blood variety (complete with dreams, desires, inner-lives and in some cases really nasty mean streaks). Further, Kerrigan's an author who knows how to put the crime in a crime novel. Never mind police procedurals, what we have here is something more akin to a crime procedural, complete with tips on perjury, assault, intimidation and the robbing of armored cars.
We also have a lot of moral ambiguity here; shades of grey, if you will. Police end up on the wrong side of the law. Lawyers compromise the legal system. "Smart fellas" sink the economy while thugs and crooks take misguided stabs at honor. That this wash of greys is set against the backdrop of a perfectly depressing post-boom Dublin only serves to make the grit that much grittier.
At the heart of Kerrigan's story are Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey and smarter-than-your-average hoodlum Vincent Naylor. Tidey and Naylor are on a collision course of sorts, though neither is much aware of the other. This is an interesting twist that's likely to disappoint crime aficionados who long for the cat and mouse antics of Holmes v Moriarty (or Starling v Lechter). Still, it's an approach that adds greatly to the sheen of Kerrigan's polished realism. It certainly doesn't detract from the final denouement; a slow burn that culminates in each of Kerrigan's principals making choices they hadn't anticipated, but somehow seem fated for.