On a wet November morning in 1940, Harry Gleeson discovered the body of Moll McCarthy in a field near the village of New Inn, Co. Tipperary. Moll McCarthy had been shot twice with a shotgun, once in the face - Carlo Gébler’s novel is an attempt to explain how the local police fabricated their case and fitted up Harry Gleeson, and why an entire community looked away as the Irish judicial system prosecuted, convicted and condemned to death an innocent man. Albert Pierrepoint (the hangman) executed Harry Gleeson in Mountjoy in April 1941.THE DEAD EIGHT isn’t the first time that Gébler has dipped his quill into old blood: W9 & OTHER LIVES, THE CURE and HOW TO MURDER A MAN have all dabbled in crime narratives, although Gébler - who also writes memoir, children’s stories and non-genre fiction, as well as being a playwright - is critically acclaimed as a literary author.
Anyway, THE DEAD EIGHT is winging its way towards me as you read this, so we’ll soon see whether it qualifies as a crime novel. Or not, as the case may be. Not that it matters: a good book is a good book, end of story.
For those of you interested, and leaving aside the author’s intent and execution, my theory as to what constitutes a crime novel runs as follows: if you can take the crime out of the story and it still stands up, it’s probably not a crime novel; but if you take the crime away and the story collapses, then it’s a crime novel.
If anyone has any other suggestions, the comment box is open …
Incidentally, is it just me or is there a striking similarity between the cover of THE DEAD EIGHT and Gene Kerrigan’s non-fiction collection from 1996, HARD CASES?