Flamingo, €11.05

The latest offering from the pen of acclaimed Irish writer Dermot Bolger begins well, with a poetic account of a horrific train crash in Scotland. A chilling, captivating tone is set, mystery and suspense abound, but as we learn more the mood changes to urban reality and the less interesting landscape of modern Ireland.

Brendan, our hero, is a forty something male from Navan who has never been able to forget the hardship and misery of his childhood. When we first meet him he is living a lie, having assumed the identity of his deceased half-brother Cormac - the real Brendan is supposed to have perished in the above mentioned train crash. By chance he discovers that his family are in danger, so he decides to risk all in order to go back to Dublin to save them.

There are several interesting side characters, including an evil stepmother, gangsters, corrupt politicians, Brendan's estranged teenage son Conor and asylum seekers Ebun and her brother Lekan, who have recently moved to Ireland from Africa. These help to move the story along and add life to the enigmatic Brendan.

Bolger has some serious questions to ask his readers, he is concerned with the many problems facing present-day Ireland and the ever-growing number of racist crimes, but at times he has a tendency to preach. As a crime thriller this book doesn't quite work, the Navan and Dublin settings are not dynamic or exciting enough to instil a sense of intrigue or danger, and the ending is just a little too convenient, not to mention depressing.

Deirdre Leahy