Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty

Published: Serpent’s Tail, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-84668-631-3

First line: State LY Plum P. Buck Mulligan.

In hiding from his old enemies, Michael Forsythe is working as head of security in a big hotel in Lima, Peru. Returning to his room one night he is ambushed by two gunmen who, instead of killing him, hand him a phone. The voice on the other end is that of his old girlfriend, Bridget Callaghan. Twelve years ago Michael killed her mob boss fiancé, and ever since Bridget has been trying to settle the score.

However, now she needs his help. Her eleven year old daughter has gone missing in Belfast, and she needs his local knowledge and contacts in the Belfast criminal world to find her. She begs him to help her, promising that, if he gets Siobhan back, the slate will be wiped clean.

Unsure whether he should trust Bridget, Michael nevertheless returns to Ireland, and, from the moment he lands it seems he is a marked man. With Bridget swearing she isn't behind the attacks, he is left trying to work out what other old enemies he left behind him in Ireland all those years ago.

The Bloomsday Dead is the third in the Michael Forsythe trilogy, and again the theme of revenge is strong. Michael is torn between trusting Bridget and protecting himself, but it is clear he still has feelings for her. It is as much for this reason as the chance to rid himself of his nemesis (or one of them anyway) that he goes to Belfast to help her.

Michael is not someone who moves unobtrusively through his world. Whether he is looking for it or not, trouble seems to find him and he leaves a trail of mayhem wherever he goes. He is not a nice person, hurting and killing people without compunction, and is not a character you can warm to easily, yet I somehow found myself liking him anyway. Michael is seemingly indestructible as he overcomes villain after villain in often incredible circumstances. He not only survives being severely beaten up more than once, but bounces back with enough strength to best the next assailant.

The Bloomsday Dead is a brutal and violent book, but with a liberal dose of black humour. The level of over-the-top violence is more than I’m normally comfortable with, but I found myself sucked into the story, and McKinty's writing kept me reading until the thrilling conclusion. This book necessarily refers to events and characters from the first book in the series, so you should definitely read Dead I Well May Be before tackling this one.

Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Northern Ireland, and lived in the USA for a number of years before moving to Melbourne.

(If you’re wondering about that cryptic first line, it’s code used among the hotel security officers. It’s also a clever reworking of the first line of James Joyce’s Ulysses.)


  1. Thank you for your kind review Helen. Yes you're right it might be necessary to read DIWMB first, but The Dead Yard is more of a stand alone.

    I really appreciate the fact that you read the book and took the trouble to write a review.



  2. Thanks for stopping by, Adrian! I saw you at Melbourne Writers Festival and you signed my copies of The Bloomsday Dead, and The Dead Yard. I haven't read Dead Yard yet, but it's on my TBR pile (along with a couple of hundred others!)

  3. My TBR pile is similarly grim. I get quite a few galleys these days and the guilt of not reading them is crushing me.