Undertow by Anthony J. Quinn

I picked this book up in the library because of the detective’s name – Celcius Daly! It is quite a literary detective novel set in Ireland on the border between the north and south in current times so Brexit is mentioned. This is a dark story and if you had to asign a colour to the book it would be grey – dark grey.

In gardening, the edges of zones are often the richest environments having aspects of both the areas it serves plus an ecosystem all of its own formed from the combination of the two places that use it as borders. This is certainly true of the now defunct border in Ireland in the book. The story tells of betrayal, collaboration and loss between the police on either side of the border and of the people in villages along it. Quinn is very good at describing the landscape of abandonned listening and milatary posts with roads and tracks used by those who do not want to be seen, probably becuase he grew up and lives in it. It is also a story of two policemen who ended up on either side of the border. But sometimes, these lawless places become so out of hand that someone has to step in and bring them to heel and that would be Celcius Daly in this instance.

Daly constantly crosses the border, not just the Irish one but the one between reality and imagination, the temporary and permanant nature of things and his own sanity. In truth, the border is not a static, actual object but a barrier in people’s minds that will take generations to disappear.

This is a slow burner of a book with Daly swimming in and out of situations that he struggles to deal with. It is good.

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