Monday, April 12, 2010


We have reached the end of the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. My contribution this week is Z is for Zeltserman, Dave Zeltserman's book Pariah.

Kyle Nevin is released from Cedar Junction at the end of an eight year stretch intent on exacting revenge on crime boss Red Mahoney, who set him up for this prison time. He also intends to re-establish his position, along with his brother Danny, as a hard man running 'Southie', and pull off one big job to set them up for life.
But Red Mahoney has disappeared, and the old Danny has gone.

The old Danny was now buried under the veneer of a blue-collar pussy whipped sushi-eating moke that his titless wonder of a girl friend had painted on.

In Scolley's, a world of Guinness and Bushmills, Kyle meets Nola, trolling for Irish bad boys and finding in Kyle the baddest of them all.
Naturally Kyle and Danny's last job goes wrong, but thanks to the American legal system, the media and the publishing industry the story does not finish there.

This is presumably a brilliant parody and scathing satire on all those books and films about Boston Irish gangsters and their families. In the later third of the story we move from parody to farce, but there is an unfortunate tinge of reality about the bizarre events that occur.
Ken Bruen writes that "in Kyle Nevin, we have the darkest, most alluring noir character ever to come down the South Boston Pike, or anywhere else in literature for that matter."

Pariah is a clever, fast read full of what purports to be black humour, but it just does not work for me.

Before going away, I was wearing Brooks Brothers everything, except underwear, which was Armani's. You also. Now you've got me wearing some no name brand.
That puts my outlet centre Tommy Hilfigers in their place.

But Pariah goes over the top, it was clearly meant to, but there is a limit, and Kyle Nevin is nothing more than a not very subtle violent brutal bully, with not one redeeming feature. Gratuitous violence isn't really funny under any circumstances, when children with a medical condition are involved I switch off, it is just bad taste.
Luckily I went back to recap the letters A and B which I had missed previously reading Andrea Camilleri and Deon Meyer as I did not want to finish such an enjoyable meme with a book I disliked.


Anonymous BooksPlease said...

I didn't begin this meme with the letter A either and plan to add a post for that and also for L which I missed at the time.

It's a shame about Pariah! I wish I'd found a more enjoyable book to finish the alphabet.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Sorry to hear that you were disappointed in this one. I have to say, I'm not much of a one for a brutal protagonist, and given your review, perhaps I will be in no hurry to pick this one up...

8:39 AM  

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