The Rage by Gene Kerrigan (2013) is an Irish crime drama that’s set in Dublin’s criminal underworld. The story takes place right after the economy crashes. The bad guys are street level thugs, corrupt bankers, crooked property developers and dodgy lawyers. This novel is aptly named because of the public rage against ‘executive incompetence and corruption” that led to the contraction of the economy. To quote from the book:” [i]t’s open season on wealthy scumbags.”
Plot: Vincent Naylor gets out of jail after serving 8 months for assault and goes right back to what he does best: robberies. He’s a low-level thug who hooks up with his brother and some pals and plan for a big job: to rob an armored car.
Meanwhile, a retired nun looks out her window and spots a suspicious car. What she’s actually looking at is some hood’s getaway car. She calls the cops. Her call sets things in motion that has violent repercussions later. Another major thread has Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey investigating the murder of a corrupt millionaire banker with a long list of suspects and a connection to previous murder.
I finally understand what the fuss is about for Gene Kerrigan. This novel did win the Crime Writer’s Association Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2012. If you enjoy Irish noir then this book should be added to your reading list. The story is tightly plotted with twists and with a denouement that was unconventional. The characterizations were good but there was opportunity to make them even better. The background for this story which is set during the recession made for interesting social commentary (and mockery) about the rise and fall of the Irish aristocracy. Those who were in on the game were hit with massive debts and their possessions were beyond ridiculous. It’s said that a lot of them owned these massive chess sets ? and didn’t even know how to play the game.
I guess what makes The Rage a stand out novel worth reading is that it hit on almost all the elements that make for great crime fiction. It’s a police procedural with forensics and investigatory techniques. The story shows how good people sometimes do bad things and have to live with regrets. Then there’s the question about redemption and who deserves it. The villains were smart, cold and ruthless. The characters were memorable. There’s great dialogue and action scenes. The plot was suspenseful and somewhat hard to predict. The Irish setting and the bad economy provided the backdrop for the story and was an internal/external influence on the characters and their actions. There’s more to the story than what I’m telling you. I’m working on making my word count shorter.
In conclusion, The Rage, at an estimated 336 pages, is a great gangland story that stands out strongly among other types of crime fiction stories. B+. I enjoyed it and will go looking for more books by this author. Mystery readers, don’t miss this one! Need further convincing? Here are some reviews for you: The New York Times, Petrona (Maxine), Crimespace, Seeing the World Through Books and Reactions to Reading (Bernadette) + a dozen others I’m sure.