****Dead I Well May Be

Mexico, alley

(photo: Eneas De Troya, Creative Commons license)

By Adrian McKinty, read by Gerard Doyle. You’ll recognize the title of this 2003 crime novel as a line in that quintessential Irish song, “Danny Boy,” but nothing about this book is cliché. Last year I read and enjoyed my first McKinty, In the Cold, Cold Ground, and this one is equally engaging. Both books were the first in a series, and I’ll hope to read the full sets.

Protagonist Michael Forsythe is very much a bad boy who reluctantly leaves Ireland to settle in New York City during the violent, drug-ridden 1980s. There he joins a gang of Irish thugs and makes the unpardonable error of bedding the gang-leader’s girlfriend. But he’s not merely a violent man, he’s an intelligent and erudite charmer, too, with hilarious and spot-on observations about American life and his fellow criminals. To say that things don’t go well for him here in the U.S. of A. is an understatement, but Michael can think rings around his confederates and he skillfully manipulates and dodges the politics of violence between Irish and Dominican gangs. Only once does he let his guard down and travels to a chancy Mexican rendezvous with his pals, and . . .

McKinty establishes a lively pace and an engaging narrator, who kept my sympathies, even when he does one of those things I really wish he hadn’t. Narrator Gerard Doyle is a genius.