Tuesday, January 24, 2006

one more John Brady

The latest Matt Minogue novel from John Brady is Islandbridge, available only in Canada as far as I can tell, from McArthur & Company--Chapters/Indigo's website has it. Islandbridge is much concerned with the transformation of Ireland into a European crossroads, no longer isolated from the "traffic" of all sorts that characterizes the contemporary "noir" environment. Brady's language is, as always, a major focus--anchoring the story and the sentiments about modern Ireland in a regional "sound" of voices and accents. Dublin is also a visual presence, not a sentimental pubby Dublin but a real, embodied city. The threads of the story begin 20 years in the past, with a bleak encounter between a young garda and a couple of thugs, father and son. In the contemporary plot, Minogue steps away from the more administrative tasks that are his current assignment (typified in a lampoon on the stereotypical Powerpoint presentation) to follow his former colleague Tommy Malone into a maze of corruption and violence that will ultimately engulf another of Minogue's colleagues. The ending is a bit odd, leaving the reader to infer not so much what has happened as what will happen, in whatever subsequent novel Brady has in mind. In fact, the plot hinges on guilt and threatened violence more than on overt action. The result is a compelling novel, a very dark but complex pattern of voices, desires, disappointments, and private disasters.

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