Penguin Ireland, €12.99

Life is not a bed of roses for Seamus Joyce. A senior civil servant without any law enforcement background, he has been appointed acting director of the iDEA - the Irish Drug Enforcement Agency. There's pressure for drug-related convictions by the iDEA from an ambitious new Justice Minister and Joyce somehow finds himself involved in a stake-out and gun battle with maverick cop Billy O'Rourke.

Then there's Jerome Fennessy, a hapless teacher who innocently does a crooked friend a favour to pay off a debt but gets nabbed for drug smuggling and for killing said friend into the bargain. The drugs rap brings him into the path of Joyce, who subsequently receives nocturnal visits from a diminutive nun and a troubled schoolgirl both adamant that Fennessy knew nothing of the murder of Paul Blake. They also accuse Joyce of being embroiled in a lethal conspiracy, something he begins to wonder about when strange payments appear in his bank account. He also starts to question the motives and integrity of his colleagues, both at the iDEA and in the Government.

Sound confusing? Well it is, especially when you take into account the various subplots. This book would benefit from a dramatis personae as an abundance of minor characters in the opening chapters make it difficult to keep track of who's who. However, stick with it and you could be pleasantly surprised. Later in the book first time Dublin author Cormac Millar does manage to establish an affinity between his readers and Seamus Joyce.

Although not a page-turner from start to finish, once you're past the first third 'An Irish Solution' proves hard to put down.

Joanne Ahern