To Killashea

Norman Flood, Author
Norman Flood, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (233p) ISBN 978-0-312-03944-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Packed with classic ingredients for mysterious murder--including a country house filled with likely suspects--this first novel, despite a well-wrought Irish setting, doesn't quite come off. Devotees of the genre are likely to be troubled by the deceptive and shifting points of view. While an unreliable narrator is a time-honored, legitimate device, readers in this instance will feel that they've been had. When abrasive filmmaker Jack O'Shay is found dead the morning after he had quarreled with each of his houseguests, Detective Dermot Quaid must try to sort out the various versions of the events that led to the bludgeoning. The suspects include O'Shay's business advisor, O'Shay's young second wife and coke-sniffing daughter, her boyfriend and O'Shay's illegitimate son. The story falters and the narrative flow is interrupted too many times by great clunking sentences such as: ``Gradually the alcoholic intake removed some of the gloss from the conversation; as their intellects dulled, they sank deeper towards the emotional core of their lives' problems, without being aware of the slow transition.'' Prose of this kind, combined with a few too many hitches and dead ends in the plot, make this less than a page-turner. Despite these failings, Flood is a writer with a good ear for the rural Irish voice, and with better editing he should be capable of producing some first-rate fiction. (Mar.)
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