The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerny
I read and reviewed McInerny’s debut, The Glorious Heresies back in January, and although she paints a bleak picture of life for the dispossesed in Cork, the novel fizzed with sweary, gritty humour. I enjoyed it a lot, and was looking forward to The Blood Miracles.
One of the main characters in TGH was Ryan Cusack, a teenager who had essentially dropped out/been kicked out of school – a junior drug dealer and The Blood Miracles takes up the continuing story of his mucked-up druggy life and on-off relationship with the love of his life Karine.
If you’ve not read TGH, I would advise you to stop here, no big spoilers but…
As the novel starts, Ryan is recovering from overdosing after a fight with Karine six weeks before; he’d nearly hit her. They’ve been apart all this time.
Between deeper and slower breaths he says he loves her too, he loves her more.
“If you love me, you’ll stop. Like, straight away.”
Like that’s going to happen. He’s now itching to get back to work with dealer Dan who needs Ryan (whose dead mother was Italian) to do the talking with the Camorra in Naples opening up a new route for MDMA into Ireland outside the reach of drug baron Jimmy Phelan. On the side, there’s Colm who is opening up a club at which Ryan might do some deejaying, they discuss setlists:
Deep is in, Ryan tells him. He fucking knows that. Deep is fine for Saturday night dollies but it’s not going to engender radicalisation in anyone, is it? Colm doesn’t want customers; he wants disciples.
But Dan has bigger plans for Ryan – and it’s all going to get extremely messy, especially once Karine dumps Ryan again – and Ryan can’t keep his dick in his pants and starts going with Natalie who doesn’t belong to him…
The Glorious Heresies was a bravura novel, so fresh and funny alongside all the social comment. In comparison, The Blood Miracles had lost its sense of humour and Ryan gradually loses much sympathy making reading about his druggy, dodgy life a chore in comparison. It’s terrible, but I disliked Dan so much, it was almost a relief when JP came back on the scene, and it was good that JP’s mad mother Maureen made another appearance, everything livened up again. There’s no doubting that once drugs get a hold of you that life loses its sparkle more every time you come down. It’ll be interesting to see if McInerny decides to continue following Ryan in a third novel – there is definitely scope for it – and it would be nice to see if she could recover the humour of the first. (7/10)
Source: Review copy – thank you. John Murray, April 2017, hardback, 304 pages. Buy from Amazon UK.
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
Maverick private investigators come in all shapes and sizes, all flawed. Australian debut author Viskic has come up with an entirely new variation. Her young PI, Caleb Zelic is flawed in that he is suffering from post-divorce blues to the love of his life, but more than that, Caleb is profoundly deaf. It begins with a grim scene:
Caleb was still holding him when the paramedics arrived. Stupid to have called an ambulane – Gary was dead. Had to be dead. Couldn’t breathe with his throat slit open like that. The ambos seemed to think so, too. They stopped short of the blood-slicked kitchen tiles, their eyes on Gary’s limp form in his arms.
Gary Marsden was a policeman who was Caleb’s best friend. He’d been helping Caleb on a case. He’d texted Caleb, “Scott after me. Come my house. Urgent. Don’t talk anyone. Anyone.” but Caleb hadn’t got there in time. The big question is who is Scott? Did he murder Gary? Caleb can’t leave it to the cops, he has to find Gary’s murderer. In steps his friend Frankie, an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic to help. It soon transpires that whoever Scott is, he’s on Caleb’s tail too and everyone involved with Caleb will also be in danger, including his ex-wife Kat, who now lives upstate back in their hometown Resurrection Bay.
I did take to Caleb. As you might expect his observational skills are good, he can read people well. We get to experience his difficulties with lip-reading with him and the attitudes of some towards disability. The other stand-out character was Tedesco, the ‘good’ cop, recently moved into the Melbourne police force. Caleb and Tedesco must ultimately work together to solve the case.
What I didn’t like so much was the plot, which was convoluted and slightly over the top – yet boring too in a strange way in which Caleb’s confusion over mis-lip-readings were a factor. I also wasn’t entirely convinced why Caleb had become a PI… An okay debut with an interesting protagonist. (7/10)
Source: Review copy – thank you. Pushkin Vertigo, August 2017. Trade paperback, 272 pages. BUY from Amazon UK.