“Detective Martin Murphy is undercover – and over here. The man loves the music – but it makes him think too much. He loves the drink – and it dulls everything.
What he really wants is to get back on the streets, doing what he does best. Fighting crime. But his medical file (already thick and growing fast) says he should be retired. Then his boss, Murdoch (one realistic eye on retirement, the other fantastically set on late-life promotion), offers him one final chance: to infiltrate a gang of diamond thieves. They are tough, violent and ruthless. And Murphy will fit in perfectly.”
From the paperback of Murphy’s Law:
My previous foray into the world of Bateman was Divorcing Jack, and while I thought it was good, it didn’t make me want to rush out and buy more books featuring the international man of inaction. Perhaps it was because the first Dan Starkey novel was too steeped in sectarian violence for my liking, or the Irish politics made it less accessible to an Englishman.
However, the same cannot be said of Murphy’s Law: there’s violence aplenty, but it’s of the non-political, non-religious kind. So that’s all right, then. And in Marty Murphy we have a main character that is charming, witty and dangerous. A man all but destroyed by the murder of his young son and the ensuing collapse of his marriage, Murphy still possesses almost Holmesian powers of observation, can get a karaoke night swinging and deliver brilliant one-liners at the drop of a hat, even when there’s a gun barrel pressed to his head. He is a character with complex issues, but Bateman renders him so humanely we have no problem identifying with him.
Indeed, Bateman creates a sense of identity for all the supporting cast of Murphy’s Law -- the thieves, the cops, the priest, the bar manager -- without wasting words on tedious detail. That’s no mean trick and one I appreciated.
And the writing, ah, the writing is never less than superb. Take this simple yet effective line (I could have chosen any one of hundreds), where Murphy surprises his ex-wife at work: He says, “Lianne,” and she jumps. There’s an oh, you scared me look, a hint of warmth, then she remembers and the thunder mask descends. Even if we didn’t know anything about the Murphys, we could divine their past-relationship from this one line. Beautiful. Oh yes, and the whole book is written like that, in present tense. Some people don’t like it, arguing that present tense is best reserved for short fiction. And some folks dislike the sudden changes of POV, and I agree that head-swapping can lead to confusion at times. But hey, life’s too short to nitpick, and I have another Murphy book to read, Murphy’s Revenge.
And then doubtless I’ll return to Dan Starkey, to see if I missed something first time round. After this book, I’m thinking I must have.
Michael Stone was born in 1966 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Since losing most of his eyesight to Usher Syndrome, he has retreated from your world to travel the dark corners of inner space. To put it more prosaically, he daydreams a lot.
Read more about Michael and his fiction here.