The Devil I Know

Claire Kilroy, Author
Claire Kilroy. Grove/Black Cat, $16 trade paper, (368p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2237-7
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
Paperback - 363 pages - 978-0-571-28342-2
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-571-28343-9
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Kilroy’s (Tenderwire) darkly comic caper draws the reader in immediately with the introduction of a seductive narrator, Tristram St. Lawrence, who is on trial for financial chicanery. A self-absorbed aristocrat and struggling former alcoholic, Tristram describes his participation in an illegal scheme to take advantage of Ireland’s liberal tax laws during the economic boom of the 1960s. Tristram’s testimony—by turns profane, ironic, and confessional—explores the complex financial swindle devised by his greedy childhood friend, Desmond Hickey, who convinced him to buy property on credit and sell it for a profit. With the encouragement of his mysterious mentor, Monsieur Deauville, the scam rolled along smoothly. The corruption fueled by Dessie’s cheerful amorality and M. Deauville’s coldblooded machinations unreel in Tristram’s suspenseful court testimony, which he provides with the gallows humor of a man who knows his life is about to end. Clues to M. Deauville’s real identity are liberally sprinkled throughout the novel, but so artfully that the final plot twist still comes as a surprise. Both a cautionary tale and a stylish satire, this is a diverting read by a writer who has won numerous awards in her native Ireland. (Feb.)
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