Read March 2021 Recommended for fans of comedies & mysteries ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2
I don’t think I’ve had this much fun since Murderbot’s All Systems Red. That’s right: you heard me. Dublin, Ireland and The Corporation Rim are literally light-years apart, but they both couple a wry sense of the absurd with a fast-moving mystery.
Paul Mulchrone was finishing up his weekly visit to the hospice, doing his granny-whispering routine, when Nurse Brigit wonders if he could see one more patient–a man dying of lung cancer who hasn’t had a single visitor in the three weeks he’s been there. Brigit’s still a little confused as to how everyone seems to think they know Paul.
“‘Oh no, Sherlock, you’re dead right. I was going to say exactly that. You can’t just have ‘one of those faces’—everybody’s got a face. Yours is nothing special. No offence.”
“You do realize that just saying ‘no offence’ does not magically make whatever you say inoffensive?'”
But Paul obliges, in exchange for a ride home (thus saving him 3.30). Unsurprisingly, Mr. Brown seems to recognize Paul (this time, it’s “Gerry’s son”), but surprisingly, Mr. Brown seems to have a grudge. From there, events steadily go farther off the rails until the end, when it’s almost, but not quite, bananas.
“Paul said nothing, in a way that left nothing unsaid.”
It’s well told, using a third-person narrative that is primarily in Paul’s voice but occasionally switches to that of lead Detective Inspector Jimmy Stewart (he’s heard the jokes: “they’d killed a bit of time and given people something to do around the station… He’d not really minded.”), with a rare appearance by Brigit.
Side characters were really well done. Although Paul and Brigit are the main characters, there are a number of side ones that pop in and out of the plot. Dr. Sinha rapidly became my favorite guest appearance:
“Sinha’s cheery demeanour changed and Paul instantly felt guilty–like he just dropkicked an excited puppy.
‘Sorry,’ Dr. Sinha said. ‘I have a tendency to become overexcited about medical issues, leading to an inappropriate bedside manner.’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘Well, somebody did,’ said Dr. Sinha. ‘I was quoting from the report I got at the end of my probationary period.'”
Much more would give it away. I’ll just say that like early Lisa Lutz and Janet Evanovitch, I was frequently chuckling as I read. Yet, McDonnell still manages to maintain tension, creating a story I had a hard time putting down. I’m excited to start the next.
“Aren’t corpses supposed to be freezing? When they were kids Barry Dodds had told him that when he knocked his granda’s body over at the wake, it was like being buried under a dozen frozen turkeys. Mind you, he had also told Paul that groping a woman’s breast felt like squeezing a roast chicken. Come to think of it, that kid had a weird obsession with poultry.”