Friday, 9 March 2012

New Irish Historical Crime Fiction from Conor Brady

I was thrilled to see some historical crime fiction getting pride of place in the Weekend Arts and Books section of the Irish Times, this Saturday past, in the shape of a full page extract from Conor Brady's new novel, A June of Ordinary Murders.  Read the extract here:

Brady's novel, published by New Island press and launched this week at Mansion House in Dublin, is  tells the story of a murder investigation led by Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow of the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) in late 19th century Dublin.  The blurb runs thus:

 In the 1880s the DMP classified crime in two distinct classes. Political crimes were ‘special’, whereas theft, robbery and even murder, no matter how terrible, were ‘ordinary’. Dublin, June 1887: the mutilated bodies of a man and a child are discovered in Phoenix Park and Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow steps up to investigate. Cynical and tired, Swallow is a man living on past successes in need of a win. In the background, the city is sweltering in a long summer heatwave, a potential gangland war is simmering as the chief lieutenants of a dying crime boss size each other up and the castle administration want the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden jubilee to pass off without complication. Underneath it all, the growing threat of anti-British radicals is never far away. With the Land War at its height, the priority is to contain ‘special’ crime. But these murders appear to be ‘ordinary’ and thus of lesser priority. When the evidence suggests high-level involvement, and as the body count increases, Swallow must navigate the waters of foolish superiors, political directives and frayed tempers to investigate the crime, find the true murderer and deliver justice.
I can't wait to get my hands on a copy--payday's how many weeks away yet?--as I've read a good deal about the DMP in my own researches for Peeler and its follow-up, Irregulars.  The DMP were a separate force to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in which my fictional detective, Sean O'Keefe, served until its disbandment under terms of the Treaty post-War of Independence but as in the RIC, its members were Irish, predominantly Catholic and tasked with policing on behalf of the occupying  Crown in Ireland.  The unarmed DMP were a fairly conventional police force, modeled closely on the London Metropolitan Police, while the RIC was a para-military entity, armed to the teeth, with a presence in virtually every village in the country outside of Dublin.  Not for nothing were they known as the 'eyes and ears of the Crown' in Ireland.  All this, of course, is explained much better and in richer detail in Brady's  own history of the Garda Siochana (can't find the fada key on this computer anywhere!), titled Guardians of the Peace: Irish Police.  The other two indispensable books on both the DMP and RIC are by Jim Herlihy, a top drawer historian and gentleman never too busy to answer any of my occasionally ridiculous questions.  They are: Royal Irish Constabulary Officers: A Biographical and Genealogical Guide, 1816-1922 and 

The Dublin Metropolitan Police: A Short History and Genealogical Guide.

Have a great weekend all!