Wednesday 17 January 2018

It's a fair cop for Garda Ombudsman Commission member Conor Brady

John Spain

DEALING with Garda matters on a day to day basis as a member of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has not put Conor Brady off writing about detectives and crime. Next month sees the publication of the first novel by Mr. Brady, a former editor of the Irish Times -- and the book is a crime thriller with a struggling detective as the hero.

Mr Brady, who is also a former editor of the Sunday Tribune, retired from the Garda Commission at the end of last year. So he won't have been short of insider knowledge on detectives, criminals and crime.

The 400-page novel, A June of Ordinary Murders, will be published by New Island on March 5th. But in case any current or recently retired detectives may be concerned that the book is based on them, they have nothing to fear. The novel is set in 1880s Dublin and introduces the character of Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Swallow is a cynical, tired man living on past successes and desperately in need of a win.

The title of the book refers to the fact that in the 1880s, the Dublin Metropolitan Police classified crime in two ways: political crimes were ‘special’, whereas thefts, robberies, and even murders, no matter how horrific, were classed as ‘ordinary’.

In the book, the Land War is at its height and the priority is to contain ‘special’ crime. When the mutilated bodies of a man and child are discovered in the Phoenix Park, Swallow steps up to investigate. Is this a ‘special’ or an ‘ordinary’ murder?

In the background, the city is sweltering in a long summer heatwave. A potential gangland war (yes, they had that problem even then) is simmering as the chief lieutenants of a dying crime boss size each other up and the administration at Dublin Castle want the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden jubilee to pass off without complication.

When the evidence suggests high-level involvement in the crime, Swallow must navigate the waters of foolish superiors, political directives and frayed tempers to investigate, find the true murderer and deliver justice.

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