Tuesday 10 July 2018
This review, written by Declan Burke, appeared in The Irish Times on Saturday 21st April 2018.
Potential for violence
Set in Belfast, Gerard Brennan’s Disorder (No Alibis Press, €9.99) opens with stoned student Jimmy McAuley wandering into some “recreational rioting” and sounding off to TV journalist Grace Doran about “the subhuman imbeciles throwing their toys out of the pram over flags and marches”. When the clip of his rant goes viral, Jimmy finds himself at the heart of a maelstrom, caught up in corrupt DI Tommy Bridge’s long-running investigation into Loyalist hard man Clark Wallace.
Disorder reads like Adrian McKinty adapting one of Carl Hiaasen’s shaggy dog tales for a Northern Ireland setting, a coal-black comedy caper in which everyone seems to be feeding off the manic energy generated by the potential for violence that seems stitched into every page.
McAuley is an endearingly shambolic creation, his innocence in sharp contrast to Belfast’s brutal cynicism and the overall tone of world-weary acceptance, a tone leavened and accentuated by Brennan’s dust-dry humour: “the sound . . . swelled and faded in the form of a passing siren. There was an emergency somewhere in Belfast. There always would be.”
Declan Burke is an author and journalist. He is currently Dublin City Council / UNESCO writer-in-residence.
Get your copy of Disorder from No Alibis Press,