The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is a rugged place: cold, windswept, and dark. For the girls brought here from Eastern Europe, it may as well be a war zone. Put to work in a farmhouse brothel near Dunmore, the women are forced into a living hell. One night, a pimp takes one of them for a ride. She is just planning her escape when the car explodes. The next morning, there is nothing left but the pimp’s charred body and the woman’s footprints in the snow. As his forensics specialists turn their attention to the burned corpse, Police Inspector Celcius Daly obsesses over the footprints. Where exactly did the woman come from, and where did she go? It is the sort of question asked only in the borderlands—between North and South, between life and death.
Now, this was a great little find for me and another of those books that would have been a total travesty to escape Raven’s beady eye! With my undoubted passion for Irish crime fiction, I will swiftly add Anthony Quinn to a must-read list and a definite recommendation for fans of Brian McGilloway, Stuart Neville, Declan Hughes et al and, when time allows, I will certainly be seeking out Quinn’s first in the Police Inspector Celcius Daly series, The Disappeared.
The plot of Border Angels revolves around the trafficking of young Eastern European women to work in the sex trade around the border areas of Ireland, and as the nefarious goings-on of one brothel is exposed by Daly and his team, one young woman is found to be involved in the suspicious death of a formerly successful Irish businessman. Quinn balances perfectly not only the setting and location of the initial investigation, drawing on the borderlands violent past in the heyday of The Troubles and its wild beauty, but also the very contemporary financial difficulties experienced by Ireland in the shadow of the collapse of certain sections of the economy. Add to this the burgeoning pressures and dangers of the less salubrious side of immigration prevalent in the country today, and the scene is set beautifully for not only an engrossing tale of murder and deceit, but for a very authentic picture of Ireland today.
Since reading Mark Sullivan’s Crocodile Tears earlier in the year, I was not expecting to encounter another new-to-me detective that would so strike a chord within this reader, but Police Inspector Celcius Daly fits the bill admirably. Daly, unlike many other fictional detectives, is defined by his ordinariness- a man of a certain age coming to terms with the break-up of his marriage, and setting the shortcomings of his personal life against his professionalism as a detective. I liked his character very much- not only his natural intuitive investigative skills, but the way that he was not immune to the temptations that this particular investigation throws into his path, making for a highly believable and appealing central protagonist.
It’s always a pleasure to discover a new author in your own preferred genre of crime fiction and so Anthony Quinn was to me. An engaging investigation, good characterisation, and a seamless blending of the current face of Ireland’s social and economic make-up, enhanced the book even further. A good read.
Anthony Quinn was born in 1971 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and after completing an English degree at Queen’s University followed various callings – social worker, counsellor, lecturer, organic market gardener, yoga teacher – before becoming a part-time journalist and full-time father. His short stories have been short-listed twice for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing Award. Disappeared, his first novel, has been nominated for a Strand Critics Award, as selected by book critics from the Washington Post, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Guardian. He works as a reporter in the wilds of County Tyrone: http://anthonyquinnwriter.com/
Read an interview with Anthony Quinn on Border Angels at http://mysteriouspress.com/blog
(I downloaded Border Angels in Kindle format via www.netgalley.com)