Chicago detective story

2009-03-25 00:00

They said Michael Kelly was a “tough-talking Irish cop” turned private eye on the back cover of the book. They lied.

Before I began the first chapter, I eagerly looked forward to the irrepressible wit, sarcasm and charm that the Irish exude. I squirmed in anticipation of the linguistic colour I hoped to experience, accompanied by a few familiar Irish idioms which have kept me going back to authors like Roddy Doyle and Marian Keyes for more, and made me hang on every word of the good fathers of Father Ted.

But alas, no eejits anywhere and none of the delicious Irish slang I was hoping for.

So there I was happily anticipating getting to know Kelly, but he lacked substance, was predictable in his manner and spoke merely standard American. There was little reference to Ireland or the Irish.

This, the second book about Kelly, gropes its way from contemporary Chicago back into history, dealing with a plot to cover up the fact that the mayor of Chicago’s ancestors were implicated in starting the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Mafioso-style mayor — who operates from the fifth floor of the city hall — doesn’t want anyone to uncover the depths of his forefathers’ depravity, so threats abound. A murder with a mysterious twist, a sexy judge willing to be bedded, a beaten woman and a cynical hack are included in the ingredients which make up the plot.

Perhaps Americans would appreciate this book, and the fictional glimpse it offers into their historical archives. It received rave reviews by John Grisham and Michael Connelly.

While I was not enthralled, I can appreciate that there is a huge market for this kind of book.

If the American detective genre is one you relish, you will probably enjoy it.

Stephanie Saville

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