Tony Bailie’s ‘A Verse to Murder’: Book Review

Maurice Burns’ cover merits study–it’s well chosen and ties into this mystery within, as elaborated by an informant. The title, a play off of the ‘murder of crows’, echoes in the name of Barry Crowe, a Belfast journalist (or is it ‘sleazy tabloid hack’?) pursuing the backstory behind the sudden demise, apparently by auto-asphyxiation, of Northern Ireland’s leading poet. The compromising circumstances unfold neatly in this e-book novella. Bailie, whose Lagan Press novels The Lost Chord and Ecopunks delved into …

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Manchán Magan’s ‘Oddballs: A Novel of Affections’: Book Review

A skilled chronicler in travel narratives and documentaries of those who wander the fringes, Manchán Magan’s debut novel follows four characters on the fringe. Two of them, teenaged Rachel and her quasi-aunt Charlotte, collide after a long estrangement in New Hampshire, and take off on Charlotte’s Wiccan pilgrimage to ye olde England of, as a bemused or bitter Rachel puts it, ‘Merlin and Voldemort’. After a few detours, they wind up on a quasi-borrowed yacht that lands them off Co …

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Patrick McGinley’s ‘That Unearthly Valley: A Donegal Childhood’: Book Review

In Bogmail and Foggage, Patrick McGinley sent up the Irish (could he or it be otherwise?) murder mystery genre. He scooped dollops of encyclopaedic wit and mordant satire into these entertainments. A later saga proved more somber and meditative, the Black and Tan War ending as The Lost Soldier’s Song, while The Trick of the Ga Bolga updated a mythic showdown around his native village of Glencolmcille, on the blustery coast of Donegal. This novelist left the Glen for boarding …

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