Subtitled ‘A Mark Fairley Mystery’, this humorous novel follows the reluctant emerging PI on his journey to solve the apparently unsolvable, after his unlikely success in ‘The Accidental Spurrt’.
As a parody of the genre, this will entertain those who take their crime fiction with a cellar full of salt. The O’Carolan of the title is the fictional son of a real Irish musician, one Turlough O’Carolan, a blind Celtic harper from Meath, born in 1670. Whether you sympathise with the attempt to kill his fictional son, drawn with sympathy, compassion, and a touch of necessary cynicism by the author, will depend on your attitude to music. But whether you’re fan or critic, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this complex tale of misadventure strewn with red herrings.
The characters, some of whom we met in the earlier book, are well constructed, and some are even likeable. The book devotes pages to the play within the novel, bearing the same title, and the script is peppered with the sort of insulting or patronising comments that certain comedians employ as humour in their stand-up routines. This is essential to the plot, as it drives one of the antagonists to extreme action.
One of the stars of the story is an inanimate object with the power to damage the reputations of those unfortunate enough to fall foul of its malign power. As you’d expect in a book of this sort, where science is not as important as motivation, the science behind the device is, shall we say, questionable? Nevertheless, it’s sufficiently plausible for most readers to continue to read the compelling story.
I found myself smiling, grinning, sniggering, and occasionally laughing out loud, much to the surprise of those seated with me at the time. And those with a musical bent will undoubtedly enjoy the opportunity to join in with the songs, which are presented with their full lyrics and, sometimes, a musical score. I don’t read music, so contented myself with the fun of the words.
It’s an entertaining read, with many of the features so frequently considered essential to the American novel: details of clothes worn, descriptions of food devoured, and detailed descriptions of both commonplace and unique locations of events. This, of course, is provided in the spirit of the parody element of the novel and works well.
Having read and enjoyed ‘The Accidental Spurrt’, I expected to enjoy this book and was not disappointed.
I wrote this review based on an advance reading copy (iBooks) that the publisher sent me.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]
You can read my review of ‘The Accidental Spurrt’ here.
And you’ll find more reviews of ‘Killing O’Carolan’ here.