Caimh McDonnell Turns Back the Clock
In an age where writers are trying their best to stick out from the rest of the crowd and demonstrate their uniqueness to the world, I would argue Caimh McDonnell is one of the few to have really managed it with his Dublin Trilogy Series, which has four books in it so far.
Though most people keep moving forward once they get going, in the third book of this “trilogy” series, titled Angels in the Moonlight, McDonnell turns the clock back all the way to 1999 as Bunny McGarry takes on the first really big case of his career.
Though he has already developed a reputation as being a thorn in the side of Dublin’s criminal circles as well as his own bosses, Bunny is still a relatively small-time detective looking to rise through the big ranks.
At last, the big opportunity presents itself in the form of an assignment to apprehend the most well-organized and skilled armed robbery gang in the country’s history. Though at the outset the opportunity seems perfect, it becomes only the first element in a long list of unexpected complications.
Perhaps more important than his career is a life-changing encounter with Simone. She’s everything he could wish for in a woman, if only he were to disregard her convoluted and threatening past.
From there on out, the problems only seem to pile up for the rising detective, and for the most part he won’t have much more than his wit to face the forces of destiny.
The greatest heroes are forged through the most arduous trials, and while Bunny isn’t one of those by any stretch of the imagination, his rise to relative stardom and infamy came at no small price.
A Trial of Comedy in Angels in the Moonlight
First of all, I would like to say if this is your first foray into the series, this third book is indeed a prequel to the first two, and consequently can be read before the others. With this being said, it definitely has its place in the middle of the series, and the author does assume we’re already at least somewhat familiar with his characters.
In any case, Angels in the Moonlight follows very much in the same vein as its predecessors where style and atmosphere are concerned. Though we might be dealing with dangerous criminal elements and some unsavoury aspects of the human character, it’s all coloured over with the help of witty sarcasm and sardonic humour.
Pretty much every page has a few one-liners and punchlines in it, to the point where it actually feels to me McDonnell cranked the humorous element up a notch from the previous books.
Thankfully though, even with how omnipresent his comedy feels the author knows not to overdo it. I believe McDonnell understands a large part of the humour in Angels in the Moonlight comes from the superposition of the ultra-serious and dangerous circumstances our hero finds himself in, and his dismissively mocking approach to his own life.
In other words, the jokes are all well-paced and have their place in the story, rather than being randomly thrown about left and right in hopes of finding the mark with the reader. Comedy is, in my opinion, difficult to convey on paper, but it feels to me McDonnell is becoming a learned master at it.
Beyond the Veil of Laughter
Though the comedy in this story might be its main selling point, I would urge everyone not to overlook the compelling and multi-faceted plot which governs our journey.
Despite being a wisecracking type of guy, Bunny still manages to show a real depth of character, often being forced to make the types of decisions where he just seemingly can’t win. Having read the previous chapters in his life, I did find it rather interesting to see how exactly he came to develop into the person we knew him to be later in life.
Additionally, his love story with Simone and the lengths he goes to in order to preserve really add a vibrant layer of humanity not only to the character, but the series as a whole.
As for the actual plot, it progresses fairly quickly and smoothly without ever getting caught up in needless details or superfluous elements. There’s a lot of fun to be had watching Bunny fumble his way through the criminal underworld (once more) in hopes of bringing down opponents who seem superior to him in every way possible.
It doesn’t necessarily provide a ton of excitement in the traditional sense, but the plot definitely aroused my curiosity and captured my attention for the majority of it.
I believe one of the more successful elements of the story are all the secondary and peripheral characters we get to meet. While generally the small-timers are barely given a line or two of description in other books, McDonnell often makes a point of fleshing them out, while still remaining concise of course.
He really makes it feel like these characters are inhabitants of the world Bunny also lives in, rather than being cogs in his story, which in my opinion always makes a story much more enthralling and captivating.
The Final Verdict
Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell is yet another excellent, if not perfect addition to the Dublin Trilogy Series. It sublimely mixes crime and humour in an intriguing origin story with a few profound and touching moments as well.
If you liked the previous books in the series, or are simply looking for a great police procedural with some memorable comedy in it, then I strongly recommend you give this book a chance.
Caimh McDonnell is an Irish full-time author as well as a former professional stand-up comedian and television writer. His work on British TV shows earned him a nomination for the BAFTA award, his debut novel A Man With One of Those Faces was nominated for best novel at the at the 2017 CAP awards, and I Have Sinned was nominated for the 2019 Kindle Storyteller Award.