Friday, March 16, 2012

Falling Glass

I’m a year late reading Adrian McKinty’s Falling Glass. It’s not all my fault. No American publisher saw fit to offer a contract. I thought it was the usual business of different release dates and bided my time. Bided it so well the book fell off my radar completely until I started to see notices for The Cold, Cold Ground. At that point I realized Falling Glass wasn’t going to be released here and I would have to arrange to have a copy smuggled across the sheugh if I wanted to read it.

Well worth the trouble, that was.

Falling Glass spreads its suspense across the world: New York, Boston, New Hampshire, Hong King, large swaths of Ireland, and a bit of England. The lead character, Killian, has seen the Irish recession put a crimp in his plan to go straight. He comes out of retirement for one job, then is enticed to stick around a bit when a commission of half a million euros is mentioned. Irish business megastar Richard Coulter’s estranged wife has absconded with their two children. Coulter wants them back half a million’s worth.

Of course there’s more to it. Killian is sent on his way without a couple of vital pieces of information. Bringing Rachel Coulter in has been hard enough no one else was able to do it, even given Richard’s vast resources. It’s supposed to be a simple child retrieval, yet the police are not involved. How Killian navigates the maze of deception with what little information he is given will keep you turning pages well into the night.

McKinty writes the way James Ellroy might if Ellroy were properly wired up. No wasted words or time, characters described through their words and actions for the reader to decide about. His descriptions of Pavee life taught me about something I not only didn’t know, but had never been aware of.

Falling Glass is McKinty’s most Irish work. The language, situations, and settings may be what deterred American publishers, never renowned as risk-takers. (In fairness, American readers are famous for tastes ranging from exactly what they’ve read before to almost exactly what they’ve read before.) Don’t be so faint of heart; Falling Glass is worth sticking with. What may be the most foreign element—what is a Pavee, or tinker, and why is Killian looked down upon for being one?—is amply answered and provides the keystone of the story.

Falling Glass builds on the universe created in the Michael Forsythe trilogy, yet is not part of the series. Forsythe makes a cameo, and his presence hangs over the book. This is still Killian’s story, who knows better in his heart than in his head that you can go home again, though you may not be able to stay.

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