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FIFTY GRAND - Review

I'll admit that it was a difficult to say good-bye to Michael Forsythe. Over the course of three novels, DEAD I MAY WELL BE, THE DEAD YARD and THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD, Adrian McKinty crafted three fantastic stories and many wonderful characters. The books are bloody, gritty reads. They are the finest example of 21st Century Noir, and along with his first stand alone HIDDEN RIVER, without peer.

FIFTY GRAND is the latest and greatest from Mr. McKinty, and it does a lot to ease my anxiety over the loss Mr. Forsythe. 50K is a revenge story played out in the rich enclave of Fairview Colorado. A Cuban Police Officer masquerades as an illegal alien to discovery who killed her long absent father. As plot outlines go, this is pretty spare, but with some books it really is about the journey.

Strangely more fascinating than the revenge story is the Alexis de Tocquville-like examination of American society by the protagonist Officer Mercado. Through out the book Officer Mercado expresses complete ignorance and/or bafflement over American celebrity culture and all that follows it. From an American character and by extension an American author this kind of commentary usually comes off as a patronizing snobbery that only serves to undercut the message of how screwed our priorities really have become. Maybe with my lifetime subscription to the middle class I find these cultural explorations more an examination of class where no matter the 'good intentions' usually end up with the author looking down their long nose at lesser beings.

That is not to say that Mr. McKinty, as a non-American, should be given a pass. But certainly as a non-American the seeming naivete of Mr McKinty's study of U.S. culture can be accepted more on face value without the immediate expectation of a hidden agenda in posing questions like; 'Why do we care about so much about Tom Cruise and Scientology?'

Whatever may draw you to FIFTY GRAND it is a cracking good read. I'm guessing I'm not going to read anything better this year.

Comments

adrian mckinty said…
Dan

Thanks for the yup ya.

And BTW as of June 2008 I'm an American citizen so we can level that moralising shotgun at me too.

And hey I dont think I quite let Cuban society off the hook did I?

Anyway I didnt really want this to be an indictment of the US as such, more of a tweak of a particular place at a particular time namely Telluride, Colorado and the eccentric characters who lived there in 2007-2008.

Slainte

Adrian...
Dan Wagner said…
Its a great book Adrian so I was happy to write about it. I don't think you let the Cuban's off the hook at all, but I was definitely at odds with the depiction of Cuba. Primarily because it is the 'forbidden.' The exotic usually trumps the indictment for me. I know it is very naive for me to say but because the US has so clearly 'won' the battle with Cuba I look at that place as strangely provincial.

Congrats on the US Citizenship, I can now wish you Happy 4th of July!

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