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How to be Nowhere: An Irish anti-hero caught up in bandit-country drug wars

Crime: How to be Nowhere

Tim MacGabhann W&N, 272 pages, hardcover €19.60; e-book £8.99

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Based in Mexico: Tim MacGabhann

Based in Mexico: Tim MacGabhann

How to be Nowhere by Tim MacGabhann

How to be Nowhere by Tim MacGabhann

Based in Mexico: Tim MacGabhann

Music journalism has been a useful nursery for writers who go on to plant roots in the literary world. It is an arena that encourages flourish, hyperbole  and show-off somersaults, and therefore a place to get excess out of the system before learning the advantages of restraint and economy. Kevin Barry, Sinéad Gleeson and Ian Maleney are examples of noted figures in contemporary literature who spent journeyman days in the music press.

Kilkenny's Tim MacGabhann began his writing career there too while studying in Trinity, before relocating to Latin America in 2013 to correspond from that colourful region for various international news brands. Call Him Mine, the debut novel he released last year, was billed as a notably literary contribution to crime fiction (a curious proclamation from the publishing industry about a genre that has a rich tradition in exquisite language, from Raymond Chandler to Eoin McNamee). For some, however, it was jumped-up and excessive, the very traits that are the hallmarks of good rock scribes.

How to be Nowhere is its sequel, and picks up with Irish reporter and recovering addict Andrew, who is based in Mexico. He is dusting himself off after the events of the first book, in which his photojournalist lover Carlos died. Andrew crossed moral lines in that novel and has been called on again to do a gangland chore for which his only options are "silver or lead". It involves the disappearance of a corrupt official in Guatemala, and working with a lethal mercenary called Puccini who was responsible for Carlos's death.