I got a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much!
The untouched – psychopathic personality types banned from professions where they could do harm – still prowl around, unnoticed. Often they are quite successful at what they do and then there is a lot of innocent victims left on their wake. The untouched might masquerade as nice, skillful professionals like doctors, politicians or managers but in their view other people’s lives are meaningless. What’s more, they never feel guilty or responsible for harm they might cause.
Agent Francis Mullen working for UPD service is a man tasked with rooting out these social contaminants. Francis is a kind of a loser but it seems nobody better-skilled wanted that job – it is dangerous, difficult and not especially lucrative either. Assigned to the newsroom of Dublin’s most popular Internet media service, ChatterFive, Francis has to be careful. Still all caution is cast to the winds when he meets Ava O’Dwyer, a lovely journalist who’s prepared to begin a game of seduction and deceit…and all hell is let loose when soon afterwards Francis is found murdered in his rented flat. There must be an untouched among the ChatterFive staff but who it is? Does it really mean they are also the murderer?
The setting is a version of futuristic Dublin where cab drivers sleep when they work and you can send a file or an image from your computer directly to another one without the Internet or a flash memory stick. The world build is muted and discreet, hardly noticeable at first but I felt it was done very well.
The book starts slowly but was able to interest me, mainly because the author was good at creating a certain atmosphere without dropping heavy hints left, right and centre. Doom and gloom might be a good description of that; mind you not a seriously big doom and gloom, not at first anyway, but still already in the first chapter you get a feeling something is off and it is ugly, preying on the ordinary life of ordinary people.
The characters were interestingly well-rounded even though one of them, Francis Mullen, was a bit of a drag (I understood why later but believe me, I was pleased when he was murdered). On the other hand Ava, the femme fatale, was healthily worried about her career, future and manicure – I liked her instantly.
Still I don’t know whether I would finish this one if in the second half the author didn’t introduce detective Dylan Wong. Imagine it or not but I became a happier reader instantly. Why? Let me quote a dialogue between Wong and his boss:
“‘What made you ask for those bloods? You don’t have a reason on these forms, you just crossed out the question. This is a real middle finger to me. I should take it out of your pay. You’re lucky that guy was actually murdered.’
‘I guess that makes me the number one suspect.’
‘Believe me, I wish you were.’
‘Alright, dock my pay and we can go back to pretending he died of natural causes.’
‘Don’t give me that shite.’ “
Yes, finally some guys with a sense of humour, a bid morbid but still. If only there were more of these…unfortunately the tale turned darker and darker, very subtly but inevitably till the very end. And the ending was blurry. I liked it that way.
An interesting crime story set in futuristic Dublin where there is no justice and no heroes, tired or otherwise. In fact everyone and everything is as blurry as your view through a rain-splattered window. Realistic I would say.