Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I GOT FIFTY GRAND IN THE POST
Let's get this out of the way:
I owe Adrian McKinty two apologies.
First, Adrian, I would like to apologise for spitting in your eye when we chatted briefly following your panel at last year's Melbourne Writer's Festival. I'm pretty sure, somewhere around when the above photo was taken, I let a bit of a fleck loose and it flew into your eye. You carried on like it never happened. Whatta pro. So, yeah, sorry about that. Although, to be fair, you did fuck off pretty sharpish from The Ned Kelly Awards a bit later leaving Dave, Yvonne and I to sink overpriced beers and be dulled into a near-coma by Tara Moss.
The second apology is for not getting this review up earlier, but I do have excuses: 1. I wasn't sure you'd want to be associated with a half-arsed blog called TRASH CLASSIC 2. Nobody reads the thing anyway, except for Jamie (hi Jamie) so I thought I'd wait and put a review up on Amazon, which as you know i did 3. Um...I also put it up at the facebook Living Social thing. So, Yeah...
Ok, so even though I gobbed in his face and sent him running from the Ned's, I was lucky enough to score an ARC of Adrian's latest, FIFTY GRAND. It's a cracker.
In Fairview, Colorado, the hit-and-run death of an old Cuban man is hushed up and ignored. Life goes on. The dead man's daughter is a cop back in Havana and she wants some answers. She smuggles her way into the States, a harrowing trip, sets herself up as one of the many invisible illegal immigrants working menial jobs and goes on an old fashioned quest for revenge.
McKinty's prose is often beautifully poetic (the Cuba flashback sequences here are just lovely), but he's just as adept at crafting violent, visceral action. The first few chapters of FIFTY GRAND contain some gut-churning moments of, pardon me, very cool McKinty-ian ultraviolence before the whole thing settles down somewhat and our mystery unfolds. It's an interesting structure: kicking off like one of his earlier excellent Michael Forsythe books (DEAD I WELL MAY BE, THE DEAD YARD, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD), FIFTY GRAND then slowly becomes its own, somewhat calmer, beast and it's protagonist someone very, very different.
Detective Mercado lives and breathes on these pages. She's as whole as any a character in recent crime fiction and her journey throughout the book is engrossing stuff. Her past is complex and the circumstances of her present bewilder, anger and amuse her appropriately and alternately.
We're very lucky to have Adrian McKinty living in this country. Without him, we'd be left with Leigh Redhead and Peter Temple (both of whom are great) and Shane Maloney and Tara Moss (both of whom are not). That's not a lot of homegrown talent. Ok, Adrian's Irish and he's also technically American, but for fuck's sake, while he's here he's ours, so let's celebrate the fact that one of the true heroes of smart pulp hangs his hat here. Buy this book. If you can find it...Adrian, please get your peeps to do something about your shelf space here, dude, I'm beggin' ya.
It's an awesome time for noir fans. We've got new Leonard, Lansdale, Ellroy, Stark, Pelecanos, A.N Smith, Abbott, Huston, Bruen, Gischler and more I'm probably leaving out, coming out between now and October. FIFTY GRAND jostles for shelf space amongst all these. Adrian probably curses his luck, me, I'm thankful another of my fave writers has a book out during this mini-boom of (hopefully) five star reads. The only way this could get any better would be if Jim Thompson rose from the dead and pumped out another book to be a part of the party.