Ghost Town

Ghost Town (Hachette Ireland) is Mick Clifford’s first foray into fiction. A noted journalist and commentator, Mick has written a number of non-fiction books.

For me, this is a pulp crime novel. The hard-boiled lines and characters are all there and he executes it well.

Mick jumps straight into the plot and moves things along very quickly, with all the main characters introduced in around 15 pages.

You’d easily know he’s a reporter from his style – all short, sharp sentences. This lack of variety can be a flaw, but Mick is a talented writer and peppers his work with nice descriptions and memorable phrases.

The reporter character in it – Alan Slate – didn’t really work for me. But I liked Molloy – the released crim wanting to get out but dragged back in – and Noelle Higgins – the wife of a fugitive solicitor (wondering who that could be modelled on!). Her character develops very nicely through the book. The twin henchmen -Rocco and Kyle – were the best of the gangsters, I thought.

Unless I missed something, some plot details jarred (anyone who hasn’t read the book, jump this par): Molloy’s brother’s house being in same area as Buckingham Gate; the tip-off to Insp Wright re Higgins’ movements and the cracking of a computer password by a gormless kid.

Using his knowledge, Mick offers some nice descriptions of the courts and the egos of those who work within them and marries that nicely with passages on the stench from the Liffey.

A big plus in the book are the final chapters. There’s great pace and tension here and you literally do tear through the pages to finish it.

Overall, very enjoyable. As someone who would like to be a novelist, hats off Mick, well done.

(A slight disclaimer: Mick Clifford is a columnist for the Irish Examiner, my employer, but we have met just once.)


About Cormac O'Keeffe

I've written a novel. And, it's going to be published. This April. Mad, or what? It's entitled 'Black Water' and is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about that bumpy journey, which is about to get really exciting. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel, much of it centred along the canal. There are also some reviews, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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