FABER, £12.99 Order for £11.69 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Winterland, By Alan Glynn
Pressure builds in the fair city
Thursday 26 November 2009
Although the credit crunch is causing the odd hiccup, the city of Dublin maintains its frenzy of property development.
Walk through such areas as James Joyce's "Nighttown", and the working girls may still be there, but cranes now loom above the narrow streets, preparing the way for wine bars, coffee shops and upscale couture houses. But Dublin's basic identity seems to remain inviolable – and it is this struggle between the old and the new that powers some of the most provocative fiction in Ireland today. Interestingly, as Alan Glynn's Winterland comprehensively proves, it's crime fiction that throws up some of the most incisive evocations of this protean city.
The novel's central character, tenacious Gina Rafferty, takes on some very powerful and dangerous people. She may have wandered in from a Martina Cole novel, but the territory here couldn't be further from the East End, either geographically or in terms of ambition.
Despite its popular pedigree, this is something of a state-of-the-nation novel. From the violent opening in a Dublin pub (the dialogue here has an authentic snap, maintained throughout), Glynn keeps his narrative exuberant and fleet-footed. A young drug dealer, Noel Rafferty, is shot in a beer garden, and the police are happy to file it under gangland killings. But on the same evening, Rafferty's uncle also loses his life in a suspicious car accident. Coincidence or conspiracy?
Gina isn't buying the official explanation of either death, and undertakes some amateur detective work. She quickly realises she is up against some influential opponents: movers and shakers in a world of crooked property deals and corrupt political influence. She discovers that her brother (the Rafferty who died in the car crash) was involved with the construction of a massive skyscraper, and with a property developer, Paddy Norton, whose ambition is to transform Dublin into something like downtown Chicago. The real crimes in Glynn's provocative and richly textured novel are not necessarily the killings, but the unfettered exercise of greed and political self-interest.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 5 Largest ever study into the gay gene 'erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice'
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'