Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond while away the hours in a ferry terminal in Algeciras, Spain, on the lookout for Maurice's daughter, Dilly, rumored to be traveling between Spain and Morocco. To pass the time, the middle-aged men reminisce about their intertwined lives and marvel at how a pair of Irish hoods from Cork became international drug smugglers, going over their rise and fall as criminals and lamenting their failures as men. When Dilly does arrive, she is unrecognizable. Upon noticing Maurice and Charlie, a shaken Dilly evades their surveillance to observe them from a safe distance, at the same time revisiting the events that led to her decision to leave Ireland and sever contact with her dad and "Uncle Charlie." Like them, Dilly has unanswered questions. But are they worth resolving? VERDICT This third novel (following Beatlebone) by IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Barry is deeply satisfying. Stylistically, it advances the author's talent for lyrical prose, with the dialog between Maurice and Charlie particularly magical. Similarly, Barry's narrative pacing creates and then brilliantly settles the tensions between his characters. For all readers of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]--John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
Publishers Weekly Review
A pair of Irish drug runners who've seen better days haunt a ferry terminal in southern Spain in search of a missing woman, in Barry's grim and crackling latest (after Beatlebone). Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond had a long and profitable run in drug smuggling, but now, with both just past 50, they are out of the business after a decline in their fortunes. The two stalk the ferry terminal in search of Maurice's daughter, Dilly, whom they haven't seen for three years but believe will be showing up on a ferry there, either coming from or going to Tangier. As the men wait and scan the crowds, they reminisce on better days and an unfortunately textbook betrayal, and flashbacks to pivotal moments in Maurice's adult life reveal a torturous history. Whether Dilly is actually Maurice's daughter is an animating question of the narrative, along with what the men's true intentions are. Barry is a writer of the first rate, and his prose is at turns lean and lyrical, but always precise. Though some scenes land as stiff and schematic, the characters' banter is wildly and inventively coarse, and something to behold . As far as bleak Irish fiction goes, this is black tar heroin. (Sept.)
Two Irish drug runners, Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, sit in a ferry terminal in the Spanish port of Algeciras in October 2018, waiting for the night boat to Tangier, hoping to encounter Maurice's wayward daughter, Dilly. While they wait, they talk in the kind of cryptic, half-finished phrases almost a code that signal friends with history, not always good. A melancholy haze hovers over it all, both the port, with its old tatty charisma, and especially the two men: There is old weather on their faces, on the hard lines of their jaws, on their chaotic mouths. But they retain just about a rakish air. Two Irishmen waiting and talking inevitably recalls Samuel Beckett, and, like Waiting for Godot, this hypnotically beautiful tone poem is both wildly comic and deeply sad. The text alternates between the old friends' staccato dialogue and flashbacks to their earlier days, mainly in Ireland, during which we gradually learn why Dilly has disappeared and what happened between Maurice, Charlie, and Maurice's wife, Cynthia. We also witness prodigious amounts of drinking and drug-taking ( breakfast from the bottle and elevenses off the mirror ) along with plenty of fevered sex, some tender, some rage-fueled. Through it all, though, it is the mercurial personalities of Maurice and Charlie and the depths of their storm-tossed friendship that elevate this dank night in a shady ferry terminal into a transformative celebration of language itself. As Cynthia says about her tumultuous years with both Maurice and Charlie, They do fill a room, though, don't they? Yes, they surely do.--Bill Ott Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
In this gifted Irish writer's muscular, magical, and often salty prose, several lives take shape as two older men look for a young woman in a ferry terminal.Maurice and Charles, both past 50, are "fading Irish gangsters" once involved in bringing Moroccan hashish to Ireland via Spain. As the novel opens, they're sitting in the Algeciras ferry terminal because they've learned that Maurice's daughter, Dilly, who took off three years earlier, may be coming through on her way to Tangier. As the men question young vagrant travelers about Dillythere's a complicated dog connection, among other things, that identifies such targetsflashbacks reveal the men's drug-trading days, dovetailing with Ireland's roaring Celtic Tiger economy. With wealth come poor choices, paranoia, and real threats. Maurice's marriage to Cynthia suffers, the men fall outmarked by a brilliant barroom sceneand over this trio hangs a much larger question that helps explain the Dilly vigil at Algeciras. The daughter is revealed as a strong, intriguing character in all-too-brief appearances while the pivotal Cynthia inexplicably gets short shrift. Mostly the two men talk, with a profligate, profane, comic splendor that mixes slang, Gaelic, artful insult, and the liturgy of long friendship. Barry (Beatlebone, 2015, etc.) delights in the sound of two voices at play. In City of Bohane (2011), the banter of a brace of thugs named Stanners and Burke winds through the main tale. In the story "Ernestine and Kit" from Dark Lies the Island (2013), two women in their 60s trade seemingly harmless insults to comic effect, barely masking their evil intentions. Ever playful, the author titles the new novel's opening chapter "The Girls and the Dogs," which is also the title of a story in Dark Lies the Island that alludes to the Moroccan hash trade.Barry adds an exceptional chapter to the literary history of a country that inspires cruelty and comedy and uncommon writing. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.