Eoin McNamee - Orchid Blue (3 stars)

County Down writer’s loose follow-up to Booker-longlisted The Blue Tango

Eoin McNamee - Orchid Blue


Having picked on a true crime for his latest novel, Eoin McNamee has had comparisons with David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet thrust upon Orchid Blue. The County Down writer’s loose follow-up to his 2001 Booker-longlisted story, The Blue Tango, recalls the 1961 murder of a teenage girl in Newry and the subsequent death sentence for a lad who proclaimed his innocence all the way to the gallows. The fact that the trial judge’s own daughter was murdered a decade earlier was somehow deemed just fine by the legal system and it led to the final hanging on Northern Irish soil.

While he creates a strong sense of location and a vivid portrayal of injustice and conspiracy, the novel never quite shoots off the page. While Peace goes way deep into the tortured psychology and justifiable paranoia of his Yorkshire anti-heroes, McNamee is content to let his scalpel glide across the page, making Orchid Blue an unsettling but flawed read.


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