Peril has received a good numbers of reviews on blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing and other places. A lot of readers have enjoyed the book, some haven't, but the main character Ger Mayes certainly provokes a reaction. He's a hedonistic anti-hero whose bad decisions lead to layers of disaster. Do I wish I'd written a less genre-bending, more vanilla crime thriller? Sometimes, yes. Other times, when Peril gets a great review like the one below, no.
I enjoyed writing peril so much that I'm now 21,000 words into the sequel, working title Yellow Ribbon.
Here's the latest feedback on Peril from John Gaynard, an Irish author living in Paris.
In line with my reviewing policy of only giving a write-up to books I
have enjoyed, I now have great pleasure in making a few comments on Ruby
Barnes's Peril, a novel which could also have been titled, "The Power
of Positive Thinking for Feckless Scots Bent on Raising Levels of
Dissatisfaction Among Irish Wives, Mistresses, Relatives, Beggars and
Rail Customers Who Have the Temerity to Make Complaints".
Mayes is a loveable ne'er do well from North of that Border uniting
Scotland and England. Married to an upright modern Irish woman who,
needless to say, indulges in quickies with her personal trainer, Ger is
paid what seems to be a reasonable salary by the complaints office of
Irish Railways. His minimal investment of time, and low respect for his
customers, makes Ger a poster boy for the most negative, biased sorts of
comments made by Dubliners about immigrant labor. Ger's only
self-questioning comes from the wonder and anger generated when he does
not get promoted over the heads of some, admittedly obnoxious,
colleagues who do, however, respect reasonable standards of
productivity, putting in an hour of work and a full five hours of gossip
and back-biting on the days when they're in the office--and not taking
their statutory sick days off.
Although Ger is more than a bit of
a wine and food snob--and should know that after two or three glasses
his taste-buds will have had as much as they can reasonably enjoy--when
out with the lads he has a habit of drinking himself into that state of
mindlessness where his head stops working but his feet keep walking. One
night, in a city of Dublin that could pass for the capital of the
Chechen Republic under attack by the Russians, he wanders befuddled and
lost, finding it impossible to suss his way to the train station and
back home to the outer suburbs, where he can reconnect with the
middle-class way of life as it developed in late 20th and early 21st
century Ireland: memorization of suburban railway time tables,
calculating which train will get him into work just after time and out
of work just before time, formal dinners where he can whimsically
analyze--in the company of mortgaged-up-to-the-hilt neighbors--the
merits of different types of pasta, tomato sauce, red wine, white wine
and Indian or other take-away dishes while ogling and caressing the
knees of his wife's best friend.
Ger stumbles into a fight with a
Romanian beggar, kills the man and flees the scene. The next day,
unsurprisingly, the murder does not trouble his conscience. Its
consequences only begin to concern him when he realizes he didn't
dispose of the murder weapon so that it couldn't be found. His worries
are compounded when it turns out that another member of the beggar clan
saw him do it. The only one of the ten commandments that Ger respects is
the eleventh one, "Thou shan't get caught", but, when he does get found
out, every problem becomes an opportunity, in line with his innate
approach to life, that of the devil-may-care chancer. Any event that
would render a less hedonistic man catatonic with fright becomes
something to flip to his advantage in his only serious quest: how to
satisfy every one of his five senses, every day, in every way.
Head of the Beggar clan sets his people on Ger's tail. They take him to
some weird and wonderful places as they inform him how they will exact
retribution. One of those places is a mansion in the middle of the
Phoenix Park occupied by a gang of people who wander the streets of
Dublin in search of ill-gotten gain (this is NOT the Irish National
Police Force, which occupies a totally different mansion in the Park).
the main plot of the book has nothing to do with how Irish Complaints
Offices' resort to Soviet style methods to keep their more recalcitrant
employees mouthing sweet nothings to dissatisfied customers, or
ass-licking around the coffee machine, there are very some very funny
scenes when Ger is put on obligatory sick leave for questioning his
non-promotion and told to report to a psychiatrist on a near-daily basis
to prove that his behavior is normal. This interferes with him spending
afternoons in the sack of his anorexic mistress.
I began to read
this in a hot and humid hotel room in an African city, feeling
nostalgic for a few words describing the ould sod. But Ruby Barnes's
belly-laugh provoking, high-wire act of dissecting the pretensions of
modern-day Ireland, and showing what it takes to thrive, namely the "Ger
Attitude", replaced the desire for the fickle charms of Kathleen ni
Houlihan with the commonsense thought that I should stay where I was. I
read the final electronic page of this fine comic novel of Ireland, laid
the Kindle beside me and began to hum that age-old song of wisdom,
McAlpine's Fusiliers, "Oh Mother Dear, I'm over here and I'm never
Nevertheless, a few days later, I found myself
on a flying visit to Dublin. The city was in the midst of a four-day
heatwave, with nary a beggar, dead, alive, or in the Phoenix Park to be
seen. Whose view of Dublin was the right one? That of Ger, Ruby Barnes's
main character in Peril, or the one of my own eyes and the Irish
Tourist Board's? I decided to download to my Kindle another Ruby Barnes
novel. I recommend you do the same.
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