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<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKintyLeadtext: No one was dead. For once they'd given a good, long warning and there'd been no fatalities. We arrived after it was all over, and when the forensics offices were done, the policemen raised the yellow tape to let us through. We carried the glass from vans, a sheet at a time, to foremen and builders' mates who fork lifted it up to carpenters on cranes and cherry pickers. We climbed the stairs, put on our gloves, unloaded the pallets. We caught our breaths and took in the view. The gray certainty of a December sky. Cold fathoms of paralysed lough. Sea rain and peat smoke drifting over the shipyards and the town. We walked back to the huge spindle-sided vehicles and carried more sheets, all of them precut and lying there in sailcloth and plastic, well wrapped, and seemingly long read for an event such as this. Sore fingers, aching back. We worked hard and drank water and smoked and a man brought beer and chicken-salad sandwiches from Marks and Spencer. Someone had bombed the Europa hotel again, no casualties but every window within a half a mile was out. It was the stuff of glaziers' dreams and cops were on overtime and the army on foot patrol and the journalists chasing copy for the morning papers. TV crews, radio reporters, still photographers, the gloaming dark, the broken glass like diamond on the leadened streets. We labored, talked. A fog had oozed down from Cave Hill and Black Mountain, bringing cold and damp to the tangle of runaway alleys off Sandy Tow. We were underdressed and a foreman gave us knit caps and hard hats and that helped a little. All of us had met only a few hours ago outside the bookie's when a man said he was looking for fit guys to move pallets of glass into and out of vans. The pay was fifty pounds the day and a bonus for a clean job. And everyone, including those on disability, had of course said yes. Unemployment was at 35 percent and the man could have offered half the wages and still we would have come. In any case the market rate was unimportant since the Europa's insurers were footing the bill and the insurers were indemnified by the British government and ultimately, if you traced it back the burden was falling on the taxpayers of Surrey and Suffolk and Kent, and really, if you lived in one of those places your worries were small and disordered and you could well afford it. The fog encouraged levity and more than once we put our hands to our throats and pretended we'd been dragged off by Jack the Ripper. The real tragedy, of course, wasn't the modern Europa hotel but the Crown Bar opposite, whose stained glass windows and gaslight had been fixtures since the 1840s. The bar was a gem owned and operated by the National Trust - its crystal sea patterns and ship anchors and Celtic turns utterly destroyed and in pieces on the pavement. The Europa, 'the most bombed hotel in Europe', had been redesigned with crumple zones to absorb the impact of explosions. And now it had done well on its first field test: the whole building intact, except for the windows on the lower floors where the hijacked car had erupted with the most effect. But the Belfast glaziers couldn't complain about that, for with Christmas coming the pay day from surrounding buildings would be enough to keep their own in Islay whisky and Belgian chocolate and Italian shoes. And we didn't care. It was a job, there was money at the end, and it was heavy lifting, which is a tricky thing if you don't look out. We laid down a long sheet for a lobby door and an AP man snapped our pic and said it was a good one and walked back with us behind the police lines. We chatted and he said he was from Jacksonville, Florida, and couldn't believe how dark it was so soon, and I explained, having taken geography, that Belfast was on the same latitude as Moscow and the panhandle of Alaska and the nights were long in summer and in winter you paid the price. The AP man jogged down to the offices of the Belfast Telegraph. The army boys got in their Land Rovers and drove to base. The coppers yawned and changed shifts, and the crowd, such as it was, was drifting away now and back to other occupations. We laughed when our photograph appeared on the front page of the evening Telegraph. There we were rebuilding the proud city, the indomitable faces of Belfast. 'Their Spirit Will Not Be Broken'_ a headline proclaimed. Aye, just our bloody backs, a man called Spider said. But we walked with a swagger as the bans unloaded the last of the big plates and the side windows and boards for the pub. We worked, the rain eased, the wind changed, and papers, fragments, bits of the hijacked car and pulverized brick and glass coated us as we moved. The dismal stuff of explosion so familiar now in many cities. A confusion of words and particles that the poet Ciaran Carson calls Belfast Confetti. Putting in the windows would take weeks, but that was the purview of professionals. At the end to the day our work was done, the glass unloaded, and we were paid off with a wee bonus for no breakages and no thefts. A few of us saved the dough for Christmas presents but most went to the Mermaid Tavern for a pint or two. We drank and bought rounds of the black stuff and ate pickled eggs and Irish stew. I left to do some shopping before the late-night closing. I got myself a couple of books and the new Nirvana record. I bought Nan a winter coat. She's been a chocolate addict since wartime rationing, so I couldn't resist a giant bar of Toblerone. On the bus back I met Tommy Little, whom I'd known in the army, Tommy staying in and making sergeant and me getting kicked out and ending up in the brig, in, of all places, Saint Helena - a nasty, wind swept shithole whose other famous military prisoner, Napoleon, died mysteriously. So you could say I got off lightly. We laughed and Tommy said that I was a wild man and I said that he was on his way to General. Another bus, the road, the long walk up the hill. The ever-present conspiracy of fog and rain. Nan was watching Coronation Street. No problem to smuggle in a hidden coat. We had a late dinner of Ulster fry: potato bread and bacon, soda bread and egg. She only ever watched the soaps, so she hadn't even heard about the morning bombing. I didn't enlighten her. She would have been upset. I produced the Toblerone and Nan practically laughed with delight. Oh, you shouldn't have, she said. I picked up a wee bit of work today, I explained, and she made her tea and we ate the chocolate and I helped her get the last clues in her crossword book. The darkness filled, the fires went out. I showered and retired to bed. The late-night noises of the house and the street began around me. The pipes in the attic water tank. The dogs communing across the town. Mrs Clawson yelling with only half a heart: Were ye on the dander again, you drunken scut? Below me the creaking of boards and beams as the chimney took away the last heat from the fire and the house chilled and the floor timbers shrank and cooled. And I was gone, off in a deep, hard-work sleep. Late next morning a man from the dole office was waiting for me. A big man with glasses, tweed jacket, blue shirt, red tie, and a clipboard, but who otherwise, in different circumstances entirely, could possibly have been an ok sort of bloke. He should really have been a skinny wee fella with greasy hair, but this was tough part of town and he was here on business. He was sipping Nan's tea and eating the last piece of Toblerone. I sat down and the man had news. It turned out that my picture in the Belfast Telegraph had been enough to convince the D Excerpted from Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
McKinty's second novel is a brutal tale of revenge starring a young illegal immigrant from Ireland who chooses a criminal career in New York over unemployment in Belfast. Arriving in the city in the early 1990s, the antihero Michael Forsythe lands a spot as an enforcer for Irish mobster Darkey White. Though Forsythe at first keeps his hands relatively clean, he soon racks up a significant number of kills in skirmishes with rival crews as well as with Dominican gangs warring for control of the streets. An affair with his boss's girlfriend leads to a setup: he and his mates are trapped in a drug sting in Mexico and abandoned in a remote prison. "If someone grows up in the civil war of Belfast in the seventies and eighties, perhaps violence is his only form of meaningful expression," McKinty writes early in the novel, and the bulk of the story recounts Forsythe's grisly efforts to escape and avenge himself, including a stint with a Dominican group seeking to oust Darkey White. The pace is brisk and energetic, but Forsythe remains a cipher-a self-educated intellectual who listens to Tolstoy on tape during a stakeout but exhibits puzzlingly little interest in finding an alternative to the gun and the knife. The dark, brooding tone is reminiscent of Dennis Lehane, but McKinty has yet to achieve Lehane's depth and complexity. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Michael Forsythe, another mick who can't get no satisfaction, leaves depressed Northern Ireland for New York City at 19, set to work construction for an Irish mobster until he earns back plane fare. Instead, he's assigned to the shady side of the business as low-rent muscle. It's 1992, a dangerous time in Harlem, with Dominican gangs testing Irish turf. It's even dicier for Michael, a book-smart dreamer who's fallen for the boss' girl. Standard stuff, yes, but explosive in McKinty's expert hands. A literate, funny, wise old soul in the body of a dangerously naive teen, his Michael draws us close and relates a fantastic tale of murder and revenge in low, wry tones, as if from the next barstool. He's doing the voices as he goes--no quotation marks necessary, mate--and keeps dropping big, bloody hints about future twists. The dark revelations only get listeners leaning in closer, desperate to hear what happens next even while longing for the story to go on forever. As Michael and his crew muddle through horrifying mishaps--maiming the wrong guy here, getting lost in a Mexican prison there--he drops out of conversational mode to throw in a few breathtaking fever-dream sequences for flavor. And then he springs an ending so right and satisfying it leaves us numb with delight and ready to pop for another round. Start the cliche machine: This is a profoundly satisfying book from a major new talent--and one of the best crime fiction debuts of the year. --Frank Sennett Copyright 2003 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A breakout second novel (after Orange Rhymes with Everything, 1997) careens boisterously from Belfast to the Bronx, and 'tis naught but Troubles all the way. Michael Forsythe's on the run, everlastingly it seems. He's 19, psyche-scarred, battle-scarred, Belfast-scarred, so that violence has become "his only form of meaningful expression." To avoid jail, he slips out of the O.C. (Old Country) and into the States, illegally, and almost at once finds his talents in demand: he's good with his fists, his guns, icy in a tight spot, and noticeably cleverer than most. It's 1992, crack is king, and an ambitious Irish gangster named Darkey White wants his turf free of the Dominican influence. Michael's made to order for him--until, that is, the advent of Bridget. Bridget is beautiful, reckless, and, to Michael, fatefully irresistible: "Aye, you can imagine her . . . summoning you to a barrow in the earth. You would know all this and still you would bloody follow her." And Michael does--to his cost, because she belongs to Darkey, who, while unreservedly pleased at Michael's performance on his behalf, has zero tolerance for hanky-panky. Michael and three young colleagues are dispatched to Mexico, on a routine drug deal to be followed by some well-earned downtime, they're told. But it's a betrayal. Instead, they're peached on to the Mexican police and, as a result, imprisoned--in a very bad prison, chillingly evoked, bad enough so that only Michael survives. Eventually, he escapes, taking with him the heaviness of a promise made to a friend: an eye for an eye, invoked on a dying breath. How Michael goes about the business of revenge, and how it reshapes him, is the burden of the rest of the tale. McKinty, born in Northern Ireland and now Colorado-based, is a storyteller with the kind of style and panache that blur the line between genre and mainstream. Top-drawer. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.