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.)