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This Irish bad-boy thriller -- set in the hardest streets of New York City -- brims with violence, greed, and sexual betrayal.
"I didn't want to go to America, I didn't want to work for Darkey White. I had my reasons. But I went."
So admits Michael Forsythe, an illegal immigrant escaping the Troubles in Belfast. But young Michael is strong and fearless and clever -- just the fellow to be tapped by Darkey, a crime boss, to join a gang of Irish thugs struggling against the rising Dominican powers in Harlem and the Bronx. The time is pre-Giuliani New York, when crack rules the city, squatters live furtively in ruined buildings, and hundreds are murdered each month. Michael and his lads tumble through the streets, shaking down victims, drinking hard, and fighting for turf, block by bloody block.
Dodgy and observant, not to mention handy with a pistol, Michael is soon anointed by Darkey as his rising star. Meanwhile Michael has very inadvisably seduced Darkey's girl, Bridget -- saucy, fickle, and irresistible. Michael worries that he's being followed, that his affair with Bridget will be revealed. He's right to be anxious; when Darkey discovers the affair, he plans a very hard fall for young Michael, a gambit devilish in its guile, murderous in its intent.
But Darkey fails to account for Michael's toughness and ingenuity or the possibility that he might wreak terrible vengeance upon those who would betray him.
A natural storyteller with a gift for dialogue, McKinty introduces to readers a stunning new noir voice, dark and stylish, mythic and violent -- complete with an Irish lilt.
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.