In the summer of 2000, a young Irish journalist returned from New York to launch a magazine about life in boomtown Dublin. Thriving Dublin did not, however, lead to a thriving Dubliner, and within just a few months of its debut, the magazine teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. Tenaciously clinging to life and managing to keep up the output of issues, it survived valiantly for a while, and had a lot to recommend it. In the meantime, Trevor White opened up a whole new field of restaurant criticism, with stand-alone books and annual awards, and tried to live up to his ‘man about town’ sobriquet. In the end, it wasn’t enough. “I tried to create a magazine of ideas,” he explains. “The truth is that I failed … God bless the boom. Ireland had never been so flush, nor indeed so flash. The culture was pretty, and so much less than pretty".
A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
In his prologue to the book, Dermot Bolger explains that his original version of the tale, written in the early 90s when his children were small, was one that never fully satisfied him and he always felt it could have been done better. A brave thing for an author to admit, and this reviewer didn’t go the whole hog of reading both versions for a compare and contrast exercise. He also notes, poignantly, that the mother of young children in the book is largely modelled on his own wife Bernie, who died suddenly shortly after he had finished work on the revised novel. Sean Blake has never been easy with the fact that he was adopted as a baby; he has never even told his wife about this basic fact of his existence. When he has vivid images of unknown people after a near-fatal car accident, he decides it is time to face up to his past and embarks on a search for his birth mother. Coincidentally, she is having disturbing dreams of shattering car crashes, and she has never given up hope of being reunited with her much-missed baby boy. As we now know, of course, these tales of enforced bereavement were commonplace in 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s Ireland. An emotional read.
Never Look Away by Linwoood Barclay
David Harwood knows things are far from perfect between himself and his wife Jan, but when she books a trip to a local amusement for them and their four-year-old son Ethan, he is hopeful that the depression which has plagued her is starting to lift. What’s starting, however, is a nightmare of epic proportions. When Jan goes missing at the amusement park, and David begs police to help find his wife, there is no proof that she has ever been at the park. In fact, nobody with his wife’s name can be found to exist. The police investigation quickly starts to focus on David, and his part in the disappearance of this mysterious woman. In order to prove his innocence, David must do a little rooting of his own. But can he handle the truth? In the tradition of John Grisham and James Patterson, Linwood Barclay does late-night page-turners very well indeed.
The Family by Martina Cole
If she were based in the U.S. Martina Cole would doubtless be writing about New Joisey-based Tony Soprano types, but as it is she is the queen of the British gangster class, the loud-mouthed, rough-hewn, diamond geezers who look after their own but wouldn’t hesitate to stick the knife in when they feel they have been crossed. Philip Murphy is a case in point. He loves his mum, adores his glamorous wife Christine and grooms his two young sons to take over the family business. Christine’s family, well-to-do business people with no interest in the crime business, are horrified at her involvement with the rougher Murphys but there isn’t a lot they can say to persuade her of her folly. When something goes wrong for Philip, he’s quick to get revenge, even if the person at the other end of his fists is a sibling or a son. Eventually, the strain of living in such a violent family takes its toll on the delicate Christine, who relies on a combination of booze and pills to keep her going. A messy end is on the cards, but can she head trouble off at the pass?
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