Review: The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan

The Midnight Choir is a big novel. I don’t mean in terms of length (the nine and a half hours listening time flew by) but in terms of its subject. Rather than focusing on a particular incident, investigator or criminal this book depicts a myriad of crimes perpetrated by an assortment of criminals and paints a giant canvas showing how and why crime happens. There are crimes carried out due to desperation, corruption, greed and a fervent belief it is the right thing to do and they interconnect at the most unexpected points.

In Galway a man is prevented from jumping to his death by a young Garda who must then try to find out how the man came to be covered in blood that isn’t his own. Meanwhile in Dublin a young mother tries to mug an American tourist at a cash machine while a seasoned criminal plans a jewellery robbery, hard man Lar MacKendrick gets back into the swing of killing people after the death of his brother and a young woman reports a date rape to Police.

At the centre of all of this is Detective Inspector Harry Synott who proceeds through these investigations as well as experiencing a series of flashbacks of incidents in his career which help explain why he’s not everyone’s favourite copper. Harry is a brilliantly complex character: struggling continuously with the question of whether justice can be served by the law. His particular demons are not easily dealt with and there are no nice easy solutions to his problems even at the end of the book but, love him or hate him, I doubt many readers could help but be gripped by his story. But if that isn’t enough to keep you glued there are several other equally compelling personal stories that will, if you’re at all like me, have you shifting from anger to sadness and back again at a rapid pace.

The story dealt with some uniquely Irish themes as well as the broader issues that are shared in big cities the world over so having the book narrated in John Cormack’s gentle Irish accent was a definite treat as it helped me get absorbed in the world that Kerrigan had created even more completely.

I’m not surprised to learn that Gene Kerrigan is a journalist who has reported on politics and policing in Ireland because The Midnight Choir definitely has an air of realism and also the pacing and storytelling of the best investigative journalism. If you like the way Deon Meyer depicts South Africa or Peter Temple describes Australia then I think you’ll love the way Gene Kerrigan shows us Ireland, warts and all.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating 4.5/5

Narrator: John Cormack; Publisher: Oakhill Publishing Ltd [2007]; ISBN: N/A (downloaded from audible.com); Length: 9hrs 29mins; Setting: Ireland, Present Day

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I was motivated to read The Midnight Choir following Maxine’s ‘K’ contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme and I am extremely grateful for having been introduced to yet another great new author. I will definitely be seeking out more of Kerrigan’s work.

The Midnight Choir has been reviewed at International Noir Fiction, Reviewing the Evidence

This entry was posted in Audio Book Challenge 2010, book review, Gene Kerrigan, Ireland. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Review: The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan

  1. Bernadette – This sounds like a fascinating book! Elizabeth Linington (writing as Dell Shannon) had a series about Los Angeles detective Luis Mendoza that was a bit like this. Those novels, too, featured several crimes, tied together by the fact that Mendoza and his team were investigating all of them. Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. Nicole says:

    This sounds really good and realistic. Most books act as if detectives are living in a bubble and work only one case at a time so it’s nice to see that there is a cross section of several things the detective is working on.

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  3. Maxine says:

    This is a fabulous book and I am so glad you enjoyed it. Some of the characters previously appeared in Little Criminals but it isn’t really a sequel. For what it’s worth, I thought Little Criminals and Midnight Choir slightly better than the third book, Dark Times in the City, but they are all good – with that lovely combination of noir and poetry. And although they are quite long books, the writing is suitably economical I think.

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  4. Rob says:

    Hi Bernadette. I agree with Maxine. This is a great novel, and I think better than the latest, Dark Times in the City. Kerrigan is very well respected journalist in Ireland known for covering social and political issues. He’s also written a number of non-fiction books, my favourite is A Great Little Nation that details different scandals. He’s also written true crime – Hardcases.

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