Caimh McDonnell Brings his Hero to Manhattan
Government conspiracies are so often talked about these days it seems the concept has entered the general lexicon for people all around the world. Countless are the theories about the experiments and covert tactics used by the government to oppress its people and stack on benefits for those at the top. However, as we are about to see in Disaster Inc by Caimh McDonnell, participating in a large government conspiracy can be just as taxing for the perpetrators, and it only takes one weak link in the chain for it all to come crumbling down.
As the novel opens we are introduced to Bunny McGarry once again, a former police detective exiled from Ireland, now living in Manhattan and generally searching for the one true love of his life. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for destiny to find Bunny trying to nurse his hangover in a New York diner, as two masked men annoy him and try to rob the place. What was nothing more than a routine problem for Bunny leads him down a rabbit hole he is absurdly ill-prepared for, one centred on the innocent Amy Daniels.
While many people wallow in misfortunes such as being late for work and stuck in traffic, Amy has a whole other level of bad luck. A fund manager for the government has suffered a crisis of conscience for the evil deeds he has been doing and enabling over the years, and decided to confess to Amy, a woman he barely knew. Once the government learned of this, it made the eradication of Amy its number one priority. She’s arguably in more trouble than anyone else in the country at the moment, and her only lifeline is a beaten former detective who, by all rights, ought to be dead by now.
The Stranger in the Big Apple
To begin with, I will admit I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books, which means I missed out on The Dublin Trilogy where McGarry gets introduced and developed for three novels. Nevertheless, I dove into this novel designed as a standalone experience, and I have to say McDonnell did a good job at accommodating new fans of the series like myself. While he certainly doesn’t have the time to go over everything which happened to our hero over the past few novels, he gives enough details about who he is and what he has done for us to form a solid image of his character.
The one aspect which I enjoyed the most was seeing him being a complete fish out of water in New York, which contrasts with the general trend of the novels set there. McDonnell has definitely done his fair share of research into Manhattan and there is definitely a lot of pleasure to be had in exploring its dark alleyways, gin mills and colourful inhabitants. As Bunny explores the city and becomes more familiar with it, so do we, and this helps forge a relatable bond between the reader and the character, or at least it did in my case.
As a protagonist who carries the story forward and around whom the vast majority of the plot is centred, Bunny couldn’t possibly do a better job. A man of exceptionally sharp wit and a tremendous capacity for action, I never got bored of simply watching him do his thing, ranting about the world around him and making astute observations with a touch of comedy. At the same time, he is no superhuman and has his fair share of flaws which balance him out and make him feel like a real human being, a true stranger in a strange land searching for his way in life.
The Man of Action
As the thriller genre keeps on growing, we see more and more variations on its pace, with some authors even going for the counter-intuitive slow rhythm in hopes of creating real tension. For me personally, Disaster Inc takes us back some years when thriller novels were much more inclined towards the action genre. The pace starts us off at running speed and keeps on going virtually uninterrupted until the very end. There are of course a few changes here and there as things slow down or pick up a bit, but on the whole something new is always happening and our attention never lingers on any single detail for too long.
Rest assured, the author’s predilection for an action-oriented story doesn’t in any way impair the intelligence of the plot. He isn’t simply trying to protect a woman, but rather he’s plunging deep into a conspiracy where twists and turns literally seem to wait at every single corner for him. It’s wise to assume nothing is as it seems, and there are definitely a few original ideas which made the novel feel decidedly different from any of its peers.
No matter how good of a plot you have, however, what really ties it together are the secondary and tertiary characters we come across along the way. McDonnell has done a superb job at creating a real varied cast of personalities for us to explore and observe, and they all have their role to play in the progress of the story. Sometimes they make us laugh, other times we wish nothing more than to see them dead, but they always remain memorable in one way or another, and more often than not push us to think about the plot and the world surrounding it.
The Final Verdict
Disaster Inc by Caimh McDonnell is a very solid action thriller with a few original ideas of its own, as well as being a promising start to the new McGarry Stateside Series and a good introduction to Bunny McGarry. If you enjoy fast-paced novels with a good dose of government conspiracies and dark British humour, then I highly recommend you give this novel a try.
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.