cover image HEADBANGER


Hugo Hamilton, . . Four Walls Eight Windows, $12.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-1-56858-195-8

Published now for the first time in the United States, this 1997 black comedy is the introductory volume in an ongoing series about Pat Coyne, an Irish cop burdened by both personal and professional problems, most of his own oafish making. Coyne spends his days on low-level patrol in Dublin, rousting bums, chasing two-bit thugs and keeping an eye out for such minor infractions as public urination. He also dispenses more than his share of street justice, doled out enthusiastically in a fashion that has earned him the nickname Mr. Suicide. Coyne wishes, however, for greater professional challenges. So he launches his own off-duty crusade to catch the Cunningham brothers, Mick and Drummer, who control the local drug traffic. Meanwhile, Coyne's home life spirals humorously downward. He tolerates a nagging, disapproving mother-in-law, crushing financial problems and a wife he suspects may be falling under the Svengali-like spell of her amorous art teacher. Coyne's life is so anxiety ridden that only one thought keeps him from running away from it all: he still hasn't finished building the swing set in the backyard that he has been promising his three kids. Hamilton's intimate approach to storytelling—the book's voice is that of a harried father spilling his guts—brings readers deep inside Coyne's skewed world. It's a funny, tragic place to be, yet one offering a clear glimpse into such issues as male honor, professional ambition and family values in crisis. There's no word yet on whether the publisher has any plans to bring out the sequel, Sad Bastard, previously released in the United Kingdom. (May 15)