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by Adrian McKinty
Pocket Books, September 2004
384 pages
ISBN: 0743470567

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

As a teenager, Michael Forsythe arrives from Ireland in the 1990s one step in front of the police and takes a job with elements of the Irish Crime syndicate in New York City. Working as low-level muscle, Michael wishes for more.

He is a sociopath, but a witty and well-read one and Michael sees his world, living in Harlem, fearing his friends and foes alike and having an affair with his murderously jealous crime boss Darkey White's girlfriend as all a part of life's joke. He's young, witty, without fear, or much conscience as he deals violence on foes and old friends as directed.

When he's given the opportunity to go to Cancun with his crime gang for days of fun and a little business, Michael thinks it might be a bad move, but goes along for the ride. Soon a brutal Mexican prison stay and a death-defying escape make its mark on his psyche and body and Michael finds that the sweet hope of revenge soon becomes the star by which he guides his life.

After a mind-bending journey through the jungles of Mexico and a fortunate business arrangement with a Dominican drug lord, Michael soon makes good his plans, but still finds no release from his troubles.

Told through Michael's voice from the present, the story is narrated to the readers with a mixture of irony, well foreshadowed clues, and wry observations about himself. This violent and sometimes brutal story isn't an easy one to read, but the language Adrian McKinty, the author, uses in it is that of a poet. Rarely has the harsh life of Harlem and the world of the thug been so beautifully worded in literature. Superbly written, the story sometimes transforms more into myth than harsh reality, but the protagonist's journey also is larger than life, so the shift fits.

DEAD I WELL MAY BE is Adrian McKinty's second novel and it's well worth reading.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, November 2004

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