Death of an Irish Tinkerby Bartholomew Gill
With each entry in this evocative series of Irish police procedurals, more readers become addicted to the adventures of Peter McGarr, the chief superintendent of Ireland's Special Crimes Unit. Now we see McGarr on his home turfthe streets of Dublinbattling his most dangerous enemy: Desmond Bacon, king of Ireland's heroin trade, known on the streets as "The Toddler."
A body is found shackled to the upper branches of the tallest tree in Ireland. The victim is a "Tinker, " one of the mysterious class of itinerant travelers who have roamed Ireland for generations. The murder bears all the signs of being the Toddler's workbut who was the victim, and why was he killed? The answer lies with a Tinker woman named Biddy Nevins. She's the only one who can put Desmond Bacon awayif McGarr can get to her before the Toddler does.
Full of Bartholomew Gill's wonderfully authentic observations of Irish culture, The Death of an Irish Tinker is a suspenseful thriller and gripping mystery.
Considering the elevated body count, Toddler never does seem all that threatening. Maybe it's feisty Biddy, who arms herself more heavily than any clay pigeon; maybe it's the lilt in his language, which makes music of every fatality.
Read an Excerpt
Des Bacon had been a bully up until his fifteenth birthday, when he returned to Gibraltar after his summer holidays and found that the wankers and wallies he'd been thumpingsteadily, daily, just for the laugh of ithad grown.
Suddenly many were bigger, if not stronger, than he, and they rounded on him in a group, shoving him around a circle, punching his face, his ribs and stomach, spitting and even pissing on him when he fell and couldn't get up.
Finally, the biggest snatched him up by the neck and held him off the ground, like a stuffed doll, while the others took turns kicking him in the nuts. The yard master only looked away, later saying, "You had it coming, Paddy."
"Buck up, son!" his father had roared in his heavy Ulster burr when Desmond was released from the med bay with his neck in a cast. "I've a remedy for a runt like you. Them bastards are to know, because you've got to show 'em, that you're treble fierce.
"They truck with you again, you're to pay 'em back in blood. Not all of 'em, mind. Not even some. Just the one as an example, but make it good."
It was the only real advice his father ever gave him, but it was more than sufficient. It was an education in itself.
When in the buttery at school the one who had held him by the neck nicked his elevenses from his tray, Des Bacon did not hesitate. Taking three forks from the utensil bin, he went straight to the machine shop, where he sharpened the tines on a speed grinder. Back at the mess table, he tapped the oaf on a shoulder. "Good scoff?"
"The best. Know what makes it special, Paddy?"
The others laughed.
"In fact, it weren't enough. I'm hungry still. Get meanother, double chips."
Suddenly everybody was quiet, eyes darting at each other, gleeful. They were together; Des was alone.
"But me moneyI'll have none for meself." The Irishisms were on purpose to separate himself further, to make himself into the wild, unpredictable, and dangerous loner. "What'll I do for me prog?"
The boy shook his head and tsked. "You know what they say in Ireland, Paddy: Do for yourself or do wi'out."
It was then that young Desmond Bacon realized what a rush revenge was. The forks he was grasping in a fist behind his back were power, what would put him in control again. And control was everything.
Copyright © 1997 by Mark McGarrity.
Meet the Author
Bartholomew Gill authored 15 Peter McGarr mysteries, among them The Death of an Irish Lover, The Death of an Irish Tinker, and the Edgar Award nominee The Death of a Joyce Scholar. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Gill wrote as Mark McGarrity for the Star-Ledger. He died in 2002.
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