Danny Callaghan is fresh out of prison after eight years, trying to get his life back on track, an honest track, when two armed men enter the Dublin pub where he is quietly enjoying a drink. When the two men approach a third man weapons drawn, Danny instinctively intervenes, attempting to save the third man’s life.
He succeeds, but in doing so, he offends the boss of Dublin’s most notorious crime gang putting his own life at risk. The police are little help as they believe Danny has already gone back to his previous life of crime–he must be connected to the failed hit somehow. Why else would he intervene. So friendless and alone, Danny must find a way to convince the crime boss that he meant no offense, and the police that he had nothing to do with the failed hit.
This is just one of several plot lines in Gene Kerrigan’s portrait of post economic boom Dublin. Dark Times in the City follows Danny, the two failed hit men, their intended victim, the crime boss who sent them and the police officers who are investigating it all to create a vivid, if dark, picture of what must be the most corrupt city in the world. Judging from Mr. Kerrigan’s novels, anyway.
Honestly, after reading Gene Kerrigan, I’ve no idea why anyone would want to live in Dublin, Ireland. This is not Roddy Doyle’s comedic Dublin–you won’t find any laughs or a groovy soundtrack in Gene Kerrigan’s books. Dark Times in the City is a cold-hearted look at the corruption that Ireland’s economic boom hid, a corruption that flourished once the good times stopped rolling.
This mix of plot lines, this lack of a clear hero/protagonist, added up to an engrossing read. Mr. Kerrigan knows how to invoke a noir setting, how to create a noir sensibility, a kind of morality the exists outside of polite society, but is the only morality characters in novels like Dark Times in the City could ever find useful.
If you’re a fan of noir crime fiction who hasn’t yet read Gene Kerrigan yet, you should really get around to him soon.
But my advice is, whatever you do, stay out of Dublin.