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An addictive tale of a drug dealer's life which lifts the crime genre to new heights

 

Critics and fellow authors emptied the superlative tank upon the arrival of Lisa McInerney's charged Cork-underworld saga, The Glorious Heresies in 2015.

And so we come to the second part of her trilogy. While this doesn't seamlessly pick up where The Glorious Heresies left off, the same cast of characters are employed.

Twenty-year-old Ryan Cusack is out of prison and working for mid-tier drug dealer Dan Kane. His dad, Tony, is "the pushover lush, the weak-willed gom" of the first book, while Ryan's girlfriend Karine is fed up with him and for good reason.

On a dark and drug-addled night of the soul, he befriends the much older Maureen (the star of The Glorious Heresies) who takes him under her wing, after a fashion. The third woman who is muddling Ryan's mind severely is the alluring Natalie, with whom he rebounds quickly and thoroughly after Karine dumps him.

But Ryan has a fundamental flaw, just like all the great protagonists in the universe - from his mother, he inherited Neapolitan blood, "and Neapolitan blood is restless". His early promise at piano and his later passion for electronic music can never compete with what he's best at.

His lineage equips him more-or-less to negotiate with Italian suppliers, but it also brings heat and impulsivity when cool-headedness is needed in a city as treacherously small as Cork.

So if, for example, it turned out that somebody had relieved Dan Kane of a large consignment of pills shortly before Ryan discovered that Natalie has also been sleeping with his dangerous boss, then Ryan would struggle, and does.

This is only a portion of the "complications" the author puts Ryan through. While Karine and Ryan's on-again-off-again relationship tick-tocks (one time too many, perhaps), the punctuating epistolary chapters addressed to his dead mother offer another effective vantage point from which to consider this complicated character. A grand Madonna looming overhead and scuppering him from day one.

The Blood Miracles is not a straight-up effervescent shenanigan with a slew of dissolute, mouthy characters.

There is a lot of heart in the tale as well. Poignant threads appear that relate to lost dreams and emotional scarring. Delectable and vigorously entertaining, The Blood Miracles is a rollicking night in.

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