Sunday Herald Life - - Books Reviews - By Alas­tair Mab­bott

NAME OF THE DOG by Élmer Men­doza (MacLe­hose, £14.99)

On the cover of this, his third novel about de­tec­tive Lefty Mendi­eta, Men­doza is hailed as “the god­fa­ther of narco-lit”, the boom­ing genre of crime thrillers set in a Mex­ico run by drug car­tels, and it in­tro­duces the son Mendi­eta never knew he had, a lad who wants to fol­low in his dad’s foot­steps, even though the life of a cop in Mex­ico is more per­ilous than ever. Mendi­eta is an ap­peal­ing enough pro­tag­o­nist, and Men­doza gives a real sense of law and or­der col­laps­ing un­der the weight of the car­tels, but his pref­er­ence for omit­ting both quo­ta­tion marks and para­graph breaks from the dia­logue make this a harder book to get through than it re­ally should have been.

HERE COMES TROU­BLE by Si­mon Wroe (Wei­den­feld & Ni­col­son, £8.99)

In Kyrzbek­istan, one of the most cor­rupt coun­tries in the world, teenager Ellis Dau has been sus­pended from school for fire-rais­ing. To get the boy out of the house, his fa­ther, Cor­nelius, starts tak­ing him to work, at the of­fices of the Chron­i­cle news­pa­per. Cor­nelius’s dream is to ex­pose Rus­sian oli­garch Tima Blum, but Blum has brought a lot of money into the coun­try and it’s go­ing to be hard to turn peo­ple against him. Af­ter some ini­tial scep­ti­cism, Ellis has be­gun to en­joy be­ing part of the Chron­i­cle team, but he’s also fallen for Blum’s daugh­ter. Prin­ci­pally a com­ing of age story, Here Comes Trou­ble also strad­dles the line be­tween dark satire and po­lit­i­cal com­edy.

THE DOC­TOR’S WIFE IS DEAD by An­drew Tier­ney (£9.99)

For­got­ten now, the death of Ellen Lan­g­ley of Ne­nagh in Tip­per­ary caused shock­waves in 1849. The peo­ple of Ne­nagh were con­vinced her hus­band, a lo­cal doc­tor, had poi­soned her. Dr Lan­g­ley asked for an inquest to prove his in­no­cence, but the re­quest was in­con­ve­niently found to have been writ­ten be­fore her death. A dis­tant de­scen­dant of Ellen Lan­g­ley, An­drew Tier­ney comes from Ne­nagh, and he fol­lows ev­ery twist of the sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion and trial. The only voice not heard in the clam­our is Ellen Lan­g­ley her­self, a fact which Tier­ney thinks in­spired Sheri­dan Le Fanu to write his story The Spir­its Whis­per. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing study of Ir­ish so­ci­ety at the time of the Great Famine and of 19th Cen­tury at­ti­tudes to­wards women in gen­eral.

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