Monday, September 18, 2017

McGarr at the Dublin Horse Show: Spoilerific Review

There is no way I can talk about my reaction to this one without giving away a plot point. Read at your own risk...But if you read the back blurb of this edition, you may not get the kind of mystery you expect. Just sayin'.


McGarr at the Dublin Horse Show* (1979) by Bartholomew Gill was a very disappointing read. After having read The Death of an Ardent Bibliophile (pre-blogging, so no in-depth review) and having fond memories of it as well as having given it a four-star rating, I was looking forward to this one. The St. Louis Post Dispatch didn't help matters with their "McGarr is a man mystery fans should get to know...a quiet, unassuming sleuth with powers of deduction rivaling Sherlock Holmes himself" blurb on the back cover. Along with a summary that makes it sound like a nice, normal police procedural mystery. After all--according to the back cover, McGarr is supposedly investigating a nice, quiet strangling of an older lady in a tidy little apartment. 

Who would want to kill old Mrs. Caughey? The simple Dublin housewife had never harmed a soul. She lived alone with her beautiful daughter in a tidy apartment that contained not a trace of the past...a past that was suddenly revealed to be a cauldron of greed, passion, and revenge...a dangerous bress that would come to a boil at the Dublin Horse Show, turning an elegant pageant into a chilling spectacle, plunging McGarr into a pounding race against time.

No muss, no fuss. Not even a drop of blood. What I got was an Irish gangland/IRA shoot-em-up with more bodies lying around with bullets in them than I can remember. Oh, sure, Mrs. Caughey does get strangled and McGarr does investigate that murder but that leads him to all the IRA/Irish gangster business with a dose of revenge-style killing and a grand finale at the Dublin horse show.

Now, of course, Goodreads gives a synopsis from a different edition of the book and it is a little more upfront with the reader. It does seem to me that Murder Ink misrepresents things a bit--the kinds of passion and revenge I was expecting was more personal and less bloody. One thing Gill does do is offer up several suspects--everyone from Margaret Caughey's racetrack hound brother to the daughter Mairead who may have wanted more freedom to the daughter's boyfriend with shady connections to the priest who taught Mairead piano to the rich race horse owner who bought the Caughey's land for a song. Any of these may have had even deeper motives and any of them may have connections to the IRA. McGarr just needs to figure out how it all ties together.

My rating is really quite personal this time--primarily because I felt tricked by the synopsis on my edition, but also because IRA/gang-type shoot-em-ups really aren't my cup of tea. It's quite possible that someone who goes into the book knowing the type of crime novel it is (I can't really call it a mystery in the lines that I normally read) may quite enjoy this.

*APA: The Death of an Irish Tradition
[Finished on 9/13/17]

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This counts for the the "Cigarette" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt Card [will add back cover w/cigarette later tonight].

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