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Dead Trilogy #1

Dead I Well May Be

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This Irish bad-boy thriller -- set in the hardest streets of New York City -- brims with violence, greed, and sexual betrayal."I didn't want to go to America, I didn't want to work for Darkey White. I had my reasons. But I went."

So admits Michael Forsythe, an illegal immigrant escaping the Troubles in Belfast. But young Michael is strong and fearless and clever -- just the fellow to be tapped by Darkey, a crime boss, to join a gang of Irish thugs struggling against the rising Dominican powers in Harlem and the Bronx. The time is pre-Giuliani New York, when crack rules the city, squatters live furtively in ruined buildings, and hundreds are murdered each month. Michael and his lads tumble through the streets, shaking down victims, drinking hard, and fighting for turf, block by bloody block.

Dodgy and observant, not to mention handy with a pistol, Michael is soon anointed by Darkey as his rising star. Meanwhile Michael has very inadvisably seduced Darkey's girl, Bridget -- saucy, fickle, and irresistible. Michael worries that he's being followed, that his affair with Bridget will be revealed. He's right to be anxious; when Darkey discovers the affair, he plans a very hard fall for young Michael, a gambit devilish in its guile, murderous in its intent.

But Darkey fails to account for Michael's toughness and ingenuity or the possibility that he might wreak terrible vengeance upon those who would betray him.

A natural storyteller with a gift for dialogue, McKinty introduces to readers a stunning new noir voice, dark and stylish, mythic and violent -- complete with an Irish lilt.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Adrian McKinty

62 books3,303 followers
Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 407 reviews
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
June 9, 2019
Illegals Across 110th Street

Thanks to Adrian McKinty I now know that it is possible to walk across the George Washington Bridge in New York City. This is somewhat interesting. Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to imagine a reason why anyone would do it. And this about sums up my experience of Dead I May Well Be: interesting but pointless.

Michael, the hard Ulsterman, born to fight on Belfast streets, trained by the British Army to do his fighting with more than fists, and honed to a revengeful edge by a short, sharp stint in a Mexican prison, is a murderous loner. Incongruously, he reads The Economist and War and Peace and makes various classical and biblical references, frequently just before eliminating yet another nefarious colleague.

The Count of Monte Cristo was less effective than Michael in dealing with those who betrayed him. But despite his vulnerability - as an illegal alien, as a white man in Harlem, as a serial murderer in the Tri-State area - he seems always to attract a protector, someone as lethal as he is but higher up the criminal food chain, just in the nick of time. Michael is an Irish drunk at least; but he could be psychopathic as well. In any case, neither the drink nor his mental illness adversely affects his trigger-finger, which never hesitates.

I understand that the book has been made as a film. Given that it is written as a script, with just the right flashbacks and sexual cuts, I’m not the least surprised. The story itself is a sequence of sometimes exotic, always remorseless acts of violence. I had suspected initially that McKinty was trying to demonstrate the differences in the criminal cultures of Europe and America. But as the tale progresses it is clear that there is no point to the repeated violence, except to repeat the violence.

There does seem to be a hint of social commentary dropped occasionally between the lines about the gang warfare on Upper West side of Manhattan. “For as exciting as the Mob story was in New York in the early nineties, the grander narrative wasn’t their decline, their collapse, their self-immolation. No, the big story was the drug-addled slaughter taking place nightly in Harlem and the South Bronx and Bed-Stuy. The big story was who was moving into the vacuum created by the decline and fall of the Mafia.” Who knew that the Irish replaced the Italians and were in turn replaced by the Dominicans as the creme de la crime in NYC? But as I said, while this is mildly interesting, it is essentially pointless.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,179 reviews617 followers
July 14, 2018
I absolutely love Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy series set in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, but this has a very different feel and it took me a while to warm to Michael Forsythe the hard nosed hero of this series. This is classic noir, set in the underbelly of 1990s New York with mob warfare between the gangs for control of the drug trade on the streets. Michael Duffy, fresh off the boat from Ireland, escaping troubles of his own, is recruited by Darkey White's Irish gang. Michael is doing well but inadvisedly starts an affair with Darkey's girl that sees him sent on a job out of town and straight into a very dangerous situation from which he is not expected to escape.

I did end up liking Michael for his toughness and resilience, while not enjoying the violence and darkness of this genre so much. McKinty's writing is very graphic and atmospheric and made it easy to read this and I am tempted to read the next in the series to see what happens next in Michael's story.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,802 reviews2,342 followers
February 13, 2018
craic - Gaelic word for fun or happening
crack - most addictive form of cocaine

It's probably best not to confuse the two.


Forced to leave his native Ireland in search of gainful employment, Michael Forsythe ends up in Harlem in a sort of indentured servitude to local crime lord, Darkey White. (Snort!) Mike turns out to be good at his job, but pretty stupid when it comes to the ladies. Now, being employed is the least of his problems and he's on the run, fighting for his life.

The first half of the book features drug deals gone wrong, shoot outs and Irish guys bustin' on each other - fun, but not exactly a page-turner.

Then . . . something happens, which leads to SOMETHING EVEN BIGGER happening and it's a whole new ballgame.

Our Mikey has a whole new reason for getting up in the morning and the reader has a reason to keep turning pages.

I was starting to get back my strength for the task in hand. My body had to be strong, but my mind, at least, was already there. I know there are people who triumph over the need for vengeance, who say that loving your enemies hurts them more; that breaking the cycle of violence is the way to happiness. But this was not about being spiritually advanced. This was not about being happy. No.

I'm a sucker for a great revenge story, and this is INDEED A GREAT REVENGE STORY.

If you need further enticement, take a look at the author's book jacket photo:


Looks like a mug shot, dudn't it? He's GOT to know what he's talking about when it comes to crime fiction!
Am I right?
Profile Image for Faith.
1,849 reviews520 followers
December 8, 2019
This was a very entertaining, violent and profane crime novel. The author did a good job of recreating a certain part of New York City that isn’t usually featured in books. However, one of my favorite parts of the book was the protagonist’s sojourn in a Mexican jail. The dialogue throughout the book was colorful and convincing. I haven’t always loved this author’s books, but I will definitely continue with this trilogy.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,028 reviews2,537 followers
January 23, 2021
As a fan of Adrian McGinty’s Sean Duffy series, I was curious about this series. It’s 1992 and Michael Forsythe leaves Ireland and goes to NYC to work for Darkey White, a mob boss. Michael is young, brave and incredibly foolish, which is witnessed by his affair with Darkey’s girl. It doesn’t take long for Darkey to get wind of this betrayal.
MCGinty has once again crafted a graphic, brutal story filled with sex, violence and profanity. This is not for the faint of heart. He excels at brilliant descriptions which make it easy to envision every scene. It lacks the humor of his Duffy series and I felt the lack. It also tends to meander at times, even dragging in spots. A better editing job would have kept this moving along at a brisker pace.
This is part of a trilogy, but I didn’t like it enough to pursue the balance of the series.
Gerald Doyle narrates, as he does the Duffy series. He always does a great job.
Profile Image for FotisK.
356 reviews158 followers
November 22, 2018
3,5 / 5

Ποιοτικό neo-noir από έναν Ιρλανδό συγγραφέα που δεν κρύβει τις επιρροές του από τους Δασκάλους του είδους. Πολλώ δεν μάλλον που το 1ο μέρος της τριλογίας αυτής διαδραματίζεται στη Νέα Υόρκη, οπότε τα αμιγώς ιρλανδικά στοιχεία συνδυάζονται με το ντεκαντάνς πνεύμα της μητρόπολης.
Το βιβλίο ξεκινάει με ανάλαφρη γραφή, εμποτισμένη σε μεγάλες δόσεις ιρλανδέζικου χιούμορ (σε σημεία, κάπως επιτηδευμένου), σταδιακά όμως, από τη μέση και κάτω, αλλάζει πορεία και γίνεται ως όφειλε σκοτεινό, για να κλιμακωθεί σε μια τίμια noir ολοκλήρωση.
Αν εξαιρέσουμε την "κέλτικη essence" που αποτελεί το κερασάκι, η λοιπή… τούρτα αφήνει μια όμορφη επίγευση. Όλα τα στοιχεία του noir βρίσκονται εδώ: Ο παρακμιακός και αμφιβόλου ηθικής ήρωας που κινείται σταθερά στις γκρίζες ζώνες, ο έρωτας για τον οποίο είναι έτοιμος να εγκαταλείψει και να θυσιάσει τα πάντα, η εκδίκηση που θα τον κρατήσει ζωντανό και, φυσικά, η προδοσία της γυναίκας – κλασικό πλέον μοτίβο στη noir θεματική (ρομαντικό είδος, τα έχουμε ξαναπεί).
Μόνη -και βασική- ένσταση, η σύγκριση με τους προπάτορες του είδους, μιας και η γραφή του McKinty δεν σε αφήνει στιγμή να ξεχάσεις τις οφειλές του σε αυτούς. Σε κάθε περίπτωση, ας μην γκρινιάζω άλλο, είναι βέβαιο πως θα επανέλθω σε εύθετο χρόνο.
Profile Image for John Martin.
Author 25 books177 followers
December 14, 2016
I liked this book but not as much as McGinty's Sean Duffy series. This was first published in 2003 so perhaps he still had to learn to control his formidable writing talent. I saw one review that described him as part poet and part master story-teller, and I'd have to agree. But most of the last third of the book became predictable to me. I guess I've seen too many movies of this ilk. If you like bloody revenge tales, you'd probably disagree. Adrian McGinty breaks a lot of grammar rules in this novel (absence of quotation marks, too many fragments) and there are a few passages I thought were superfluous, but in the main the story works, and there is a nice little twist at the end.
Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
April 5, 2018
A classic noir with mob connotations, ‘Dead I Well May Be’ introduces a hero with more heart than body parts (read the book, you’ll know what I mean). From Ireland to New York to the jungles of Mexico the blood runs think and fast as the protagonist seeks vengeance for his wrong doing. I liken this to the Sopranos (somewhat) in the earlier stages of the book with a hint of Hank Thompson (Charlie Huston’s creation) towards the end. A solid read for fans of mob related fiction, noir, and plain good story telling.
Profile Image for Anni.
541 reviews72 followers
May 6, 2018
This is not a genre I would normally expect to enjoy, but this brutal story of gangland warfare, lust, betrayal and bloody reprisals, is stunningly well-written. It is impossible not to care about the fate of the engaging anti-hero who has few redeeming qualities other than his native Irish wit and the will to survive.
Although McKinty's writing pulls no punches with vividly observed dialogue, his prose style is shot through with sardonic humour and poetic imagery on every page. This is "Gangs of New York" for the nineties with a suitably Tarantino-style bloodthirsty ending!

Reviewed for Whichbook.net
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,030 followers
February 28, 2016
What a moody, intricate piece of work! I can't say I loved the whole thing, but I couldn't stop listening. Fabulously read by Gerard Doyle whose Irish brogue complemented the character perfectly. That's the story - Michael Forsythe. He's not the brightest lad & he has his problems both with drink & impulse control, but he's a nice enough bloke. Sometimes, his performance is cringe-worthy, other times incredibly cold, heroic, &/or tough, but generally he's just trying to get by. He's pretty easy going & likes most everyone. He knows his situation is often of his own making & accepts the consequences with fatalistic good will to a point. Once the point is reached, that's the story. It's a wild ride, too.

Some parts dragged, especially in the middle. The Mexican bit went on too long for my taste & I didn't care for all the dreaming. It did add to the mood at first, but my threshold for such is very limited. YMMV.

I also didn't care for some of the flat out spoilers. I guess they were a form of foreshadowing, but they always read clumsily - rushed. Still, they would be natural enough if this really had been a person telling the story in his own words, so again, I guess they worked. I would have enjoyed the book more without them, though.

Still, it was a great book & story. Very well done. I have another & I'm looking forward to it.
Profile Image for Nigel.
161 reviews30 followers
November 13, 2018
3.5 stars, rounded down

I am a fan of Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy detective series set in Northern Ireland, so thought I would check out the 'Dead Trilogy', a trilogy set later (early 90's) than this series, but written earlier. Once again our main character is Irish, but this time living in New York, a young man who finds himself working as an enforcer for one of the Irish gangs. In true noir style, he gets involved with the bosses' girlfriend (a femme fatale), with predictable consequences. Lots of action and style in this book, and I will be reading the other 2 in this trilogy. Not, however, quite as good as the Duffy series, as the main character is not quite as likeable.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews390 followers
February 6, 2021
"The Irish bad boy thriller" did not sound like something I would enjoy but strangely I did. It's dark and gritty about gangs, violence and drugs. Not that cheerful. But quite interesting to read about. Might continue the series but for now I'm not to eager about it. Felt like one book about this can be enough for me but a good story nevertheless
Profile Image for LenaRibka.
1,427 reviews416 followers
April 23, 2020

What a ride! I can't imagine it was once a debut novel!

I can't thank Katerina enough for bringing Adrian McKinty into my reading LIFE! I would probably have never came across his books (or maybe much much later), hadn't I read her exciting reviews of Detective Sean Duffy Series that kept popping up on my feed while she was speeding through the series. They left increasing craving for looking forward to getting knowing this Sean Duffy.

Michael Forsythe is not Sean Duffy. Duffy is a Catholic police sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland. Michael is an illegal immigrant in NY who fled the Troubles in Belfast. But still I found they have a lot of in common. In the first place they share an mistakable author's sense of humor and his fascinated erudition.

An excellent heart-stop-beating thriller. Reminds me of Quentin Tarantino's earlier works. Honour, love, betrayal and vengeance. But the most admirable part of it - Adrian McKinty writing. I fully agree with those readers who describe him as poet: sarcastic humour and lyric prose leave you craving for more...

From author's blog Why I write:

[...]So I don’t see writing as just another job. I don’t write to fill my word count.
I am on a sacred fucking mission. I’m waiting for the goddess. Because I believe in the goddess. I believe in ghosts. The ghosts of the ones who went before and the ones who have not yet come. And I will witness against the beast. And I will defy the darkness and I will tell our story.
I take up my meteor iron and I scratch marks onto thin milled wood and what I do is consecrated.
And I will try very hard to make it good.

1 review
January 13, 2010
Its actually pretty ridiculous. I had to get this book from the United Kingdom on Amazon.co.uk. And of course had to pay shipping. Why not get it from Audible? Well, I prefer to read my books not listen to disembodied voices in my head.

All right, moan over, back to the book:

Quite simply one of the best novels I have ever read. I didn't say one of the best crime novels. I said one of the best novels. The basic plot description is this: the story of a young Irish immigrant in the violent New York underworld of the early 90's. But this doesn't really do the novel any justice. The lead character is on an existential journey to discover himself and the meaning of loyality, revenge, love...All that good stuff. The Irish do seem to have a way with words too. There must be something in the water. Or maybe its the peat. Ahhh, the peat (to quote Jerry Seinfeld).
Profile Image for Karmologyclinic.
248 reviews32 followers
May 27, 2011
I wasn't expecting much from this book, since the plot summary doesn't do it much justice. Neither the thriller/crime category applied to it. It's much more than that. Can I call it an existential thriller? A study in desperate crime maybe?
Here's a fine young man caught in desperate situations he can't escape, all the way since his childhood. Here the universe will not even raise its eyebrow to help him, nothing like the helpful conspiring universe of Coehlo's wishful fuckery. He's fighting with the waves just to keep his nose above water and he doesn't even take the credits for it. In his journey he discovers the morality of killing is a relative thing. He discovers the need to vengeance, vengeance itself and the aftermath. He discovers love and betrayal. And he learns what will in the end will help him survive: to observe and endure.
And though all the above could be a boring introspect in first person, McKinty avoids the easy self-pitty theme and pulls it through: the tricky first person writing, the heavy slang, the witty stand-up jokes, lively dialogue, all of it. He obviously can write well without much effort and it shows.
The hero tells his story from a future point of view, not as it happens. This takes away the thriller part but gives more insight. Empathy for the protagonist hits you pretty quickly and stays with you, not because you agree or you would act the same way, but because the author presents a platter of Michael's brain in front of you, so you can understand and honestly connect with him.
I do have one question unanswered: did he finished reading War & Peace? Hm, I guess so.
Profile Image for Tania.
1,202 reviews271 followers
January 26, 2021
2.5 stars. I absolutely adored the Sean Duffy series by this author, and was so excited to hear that the Dead trilogy was also narrated by Gerard Doyle, as he makes these books come to life. As always he did an amazing job with the reading, and although I can still see that Adrian McKinty is a brilliant writer, the actual story fell flat. Too many unconnected meanderings (especially while stuck in prison). The characters were interesting and the humor perfect, but wanted more suspense and a tighter plotline.

If you enjoy a good crime/detective novel, I highly recommend the Sean Duffy series - intelligent, well written, funny and set in early 80's Northern Ireland.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,348 reviews177 followers
November 29, 2018
I am "Fan Girl" of this author's Sean Duffy series and have discussed his writing with my brother several times. He talked me into trying this earlier "Dead" series. Even though...I had initially tried the free sample portion and knew it would be hard for me to read.
Well, I was able to get this from my library and I am not going to lie. I have feminine sensibilities. Those sensibilities made me want to stop reading the doggone book. It was difficult for me to keep with it. In fact, I read several other books in between putting down and picking up again. It's just a whole lot of criminal activity, spending time with the dregs of society.

It does have one heck of a good ending, so I do feel rewarded for sticking with the book.

It is within the realm of possibilities that I will pick up the other two books while visiting the library and do some speed reading to finish off the trilogy. Time will tell.
Profile Image for Annery.
944 reviews122 followers
June 21, 2020
"Yes. It's true. We're lost. We're in a boat on the wild ocean. The seas are high, and there is no compass. We're fucked. Blind. Ignorant. The night bewildering and there is no dawn. We are outside latitude or longitude or maps. No land, no dead reckoning, no horizon. Fucked in spades. In this cabin of stale air, with asthmatics, fellow fools before the mast, who knows no shanties but who cough nocturnes for me. But they're more doomed than me. I'm ok, really, for I'm not with them. I am not a boy or a man, rather I am a cow, or a black buffalo, or a bird, or a tiny caterpillar crawling under the door. I am, that is, until one of the others wheezes or says something and I'm back again, a haunted passenger, seasick, lost, fucked."
If you're in the mood for some gorgeous, hard boiled, Irish style noir Adrian McKinty is your man.

The year is 1992 and young Michael Forsythe has left the Troubles in Belfast for a host of new ones in New York. He's a bit of muscle and jack of all trades to Darkey White, a local Irish mobster. Things are going as well as they can until they don't. It's a tale that's been told before but the difference here is that the whole story is from Michael's POV and we're in his head: funny, sarcastic, smart, sometimes morbid, lyrical without being syrupy. I loved it.

The other thing that warmed my heart was the pitch perfect depiction of New York at that time. Flawless.
Profile Image for Alan.
451 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2019
Clever, economical prose from a gifted storyteller. Nice touches of black humour as the bleak, dysfunctional lives of some small-time Irish mob soldiers are revealed. Some distinguish themselves through their appetite for drink, loyalty to lost causes and confounding stupidity; others through adaptability borne of a fierce need from early childhood in Belfast during the troubles, and through plain luck.

From Northern Ireland to chaotic ‘90s New York in rotting Harlem tenements and sleazy Mick bars, to jail in Mexico and back, the story is keenly told and solidly claims your interest.

Never overdone, the quirky characters - with their slang, their gang sensibilities; with their proclivity for violence and with their heart and hopeful naïveté - are oddly compelling.
Profile Image for Ryan.
209 reviews6 followers
February 28, 2008
Holy crap. I picked this up because it's Irish, mostly. Only a few discs into the story it's a pretty fun listen. It's written in first person, so listening to it is no different than your favorite Irish friend telling you a story. With A LOT of f-bombs in it. To give you an idea....one guy (Scotchy) was giving the main character (Mike) a hard time over the phone. The main character goes silent for quite a while as Sotchy bellows into the phone. Scotchy finally wises up to the silent treatment and starts inquiring to see if Mike is still on the line. When, finally, after much badgering Mike responds, Scotchy simply says: "Well, f#&king, f*$k ya f^#ker."

A classic to be sure. More to come when I finish this thing.

Alright, I finished hearing this book....I can't say that I loved this book as much as some others that I hold dear, but this thing was a treat and a half, for sure.

As I mentioned above, it's written in first person. So listening to it was like being told a story by a good friend.

Another, and much much more childish, reason why I liked this book, Irish swearing at its finest. The f-word, I'm nearly positive, was used as every single part of speech, including conjunction.

The writing style was unique as well. There is a big portion that is written in wonderfully descriptive minimalism. Those portions mingled superbly with what I consider regular old prose. With a lot of detail, to the point of going in tangents. Being that I do that often with my own stories, I thoroughly enjoyed this quirk.

Usually I don't like foreshadowing in books, this one's hints to the future kept me hooked in.

Besides cussin' there's a lot of killing. And not your 'he rounded the corner and I put two slugs in his chest' kinda killin'. A lot more detailed. Graphic. Delicious.

The absolute best thing about this book, there are 2 more. This is the first of a trilogy (so far). And I. Can't. Wait. to get my hands on the next one.
Profile Image for 3 no 7.
746 reviews21 followers
February 8, 2020
“Dead I Well May Be” is the story of Irish National Michael Forsythe who illegally moves to The United States to escape “The Troubles “in Belfast. McKinty gives readers a dark and violent look at life in New York City as would-be gangster Michael struggles to make it. I listened to “Dead I May Well Be” an audio book narrated by Gerald Doyle specifically to hear the dialogue with an Irish lilt.

In a first person narrative, Michael describes life in Harlem. He speaks directly to readers as if talking to old friends; pulls them into the story. Michael dislikes living in Harlem. He hates driving, and the car’s windshield wipers come on when he uses the left turn signal, so he never uses it. The beer is the worst he has ever had, and there are cockroaches everywhere.

Michael recounts what he says and what is said to him. He analyses events and his behavior after the fact; “if only things had been different, there would be a different narrative, not this one.” He comments on the world, his situation, and his views of society in general. He describes a life filled with violence, greed, and betrayal. His is a wild ride.
McKinty’s characters are complex and diverse with strange but appropriate nicknames. Michael has fascinating relationships with the other characters, and he faces abundant moral challenges as well as physical threats. Lighter casual moments break up the trauma, and give readers time to breath.

McKinty tells a compelling story and creates a different Harlem for readers. The tale is well written, sometimes brutal, often violent, but always entertaining. I recommend the audio book; Doyle’s lilting narrative makes the story come alive.
Profile Image for The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo.
2,132 reviews267 followers
June 24, 2022
My experience with this book wasn't as exciting as I hoped. The pace slowed way down in Mexico, but the blame mostly lies with the voice narrator. Daring escapes and shootouts weren't delivered with any particular inflection - but the man sure had a terrific Irish accent. :)

I like Michael Forsythe. We're the same age and would probably have a lot of conversational context - except he's from Belfast, and has a whole criminal thing going on. It's 1992 and Michael has left the Troubles behind for Harlem, working as a strongarm for Darkey White's Irish street gang. He's making a name for himself as a cool head and his future seems bright, except that Darkey's girlfriend has "heart attack red hair" and legs for days. The two are sneaking around behind Darkey's back, so it's no surprise to him when his drug buy in Mexico goes horribly, horribly wrong. But if Michael ever makes it back to New York, there's gonna be hell to pay...

Yep, I'm pretty sure I would've loved this via Kindle or paperback. When I get to the followup, The Dead Yard, I'll be sure to read it instead of listen.
Profile Image for Karen Machin.
368 reviews1 follower
August 5, 2018
Gangster movies and books, just not my thing but McKinty tells a good tell. I could not turn away
Profile Image for Donna Davis.
1,759 reviews237 followers
February 7, 2022
Ohhh, holy crap! I sought this one out at Seattle Bibliocommons once I discovered that I've read all of the Sean Duffy series up to the present. I brought home the audio version and listened to it while I used my exercise bike. I do this every day, pedal and listen, and usually it's background noise where my spouse and daughter are concerned, but with this one, my husband was shocked by an occurrence at about 75%, and so I had to fill him in on what had happened between the time he last listened and this one. My daughter ordered me to use earbuds (a first, and I was reluctant,) because she had decided that she wanted to listen to it, too, and here I was about to spoil the best parts.

Needless to say, I've put in a request for the other two in the trilogy.

This is high octane, a true thriller. I advise against reading it at bedtime unless you are unusually phlegmatic. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dorothy.
1,341 reviews92 followers
August 14, 2017
So Michael Forsythe is an Irish bad boy in the time of "The Troubles". He joined the British army essentially to get out of Northern Ireland but he couldn't stay within the lines prescribed by that estimable organization and kept getting into trouble until finally the army kicked him to the curb.

Back home in Belfast, he continues his bad boy ways and is constantly getting into more trouble until finally he's used up all his chances. With no further prospects in sight, he takes what's on offer - a ticket to America and work with the Irish mafia there. New York here he comes.

Michael assures us that he didn't want to go to America and he didn't want to work for Darkey White, the memorably named mafia chieftain, but he had not yet seen his twentieth birthday and what other choices did he have? He had entered the country illegally and so his job options were limited.

He settles into his routine with the Darkey White crew. He's a kind of enforcer and it is sometimes violent work. Unfortunately for Michael, even here he finds it difficult to toe the line, especially when it comes to women. He has a wandering eye for the female sex and when his eye settles onto Darkey White's mistress, the reader knows that this is not going to end well.

Michael Forsythe is the sole narrator of this very noir story, told with a strong Irish lilt in the voice. He gives us a strictly straightforward narration; first this happened, then this. But we are also privy to his dreams and his memories, all of which occasionally makes for some dark reading.

It seems that people tended to underestimate Michael's toughness and resilience. Certainly Darkey White did, much to his dismay. The retribution he planned for his employee as payback for his having seduced his mistress does not quite work out as intended. Michael is a survivor. After all, this is the first book in a trilogy, so how could it be otherwise?

I had never read any of Adrian McKinty's work, but he certainly has a flair for storytelling. The plot rolls along relentlessly, only stalling a bit during an interlude in Mexico. And his main character is an interesting chap of the "bad boy with a heart of gold" genre. Moreover, during his travels, Michael relies very heavily on the kindness of strangers. Fortuitously, there always seems to be another stranger willing to help him out.

What does the future hold for young Michael? Two more volumes hold the answers.
Profile Image for Rob Kitchin.
Author 47 books93 followers
May 29, 2012
Dead I May Well Be is a confident, bold and assured debut novel of great depth and storytelling. Forsythe is a complex and well-drawn character and the rest of the cast are more than mere extras. The writing is sharp and dark, the plot is rich and thick with political and philosophical insight, as well as violence and pathos, and the story zips along at a cracking pace. McKinty does a good job of capturing the sights and sounds of pre-Giuliani New York City, and the personal relations within and between gangs. And the dialogue and narrator’s voice are spot on. If you’re looking for a hardboiled slice of noir with a fresh voice, then Dead I Well May Be is as good as place to start as you’re likely to get.
Profile Image for Thomas.
730 reviews175 followers
April 24, 2015
I give this book 3 and 1/2 stars out of 5(rounded up to 4). Michael Forsythe leaves Ulster Ireland for the US to escape the troubles. Because he is an illegal immigrant he must find work where he can and ends up working as part of a criminal gang. The plot is believable and the Ulster dialect is readable. I did not like the parts of the book where he fantasizes about his surroundings/memories. This stream of consciousness style of writing periodic interruptions of the plot were distracting and unnecessary.
I found it hard at times to separate the plot and fantasies.
1,250 reviews42 followers
September 8, 2020
As a massive fan of the Sean Duffy series I was very much looking forward to delving into this earlier series by the same author. Here the character is an Irish criminal trying to make it in the NYC of the early 90s. There is a lot to like, nyc at it stinky alluring worst is vividly brought to life, and the plot canters along. In my view the book pales a bit in relation to McKinty’s later books which I preferred. Still a good read.
Profile Image for Johnny.
Author 27 books275 followers
August 19, 2009
A solid first novel and I look forward to reading more by Adrian McKinty.

I have a few small gripes with the book: some unnecessary foreshadowing that steps on the story being told in the present, a knack of letting a digression take over a scene, and the book is probably about 50 pages longer than its very simple story needs.

The first half is really great. That's not to say the latter half isn't good, the story just changes drastically. Where the first half is grounded and the story remains relatively intimate, the second half lets loose and goes a little nuts. It's fun, but you have to have a good suspension of disbelief to buy everything that happens from a certain point on.

Fun read that shows great promise.
Author 4 books121 followers
September 7, 2021
Having read and reread McKinty's excellent Sean Duffy series set in Ireland during the Troubles, I've needed to branch out and try his debut novel/series about Michael Forsythe, who has escaped his troubled past in Ireland and joined a partly Irish gang in NYC in the early 1990s when drugs and gang warfare were even more deadly than today. Forsythe is similar to Duffy in the latest series: a man who speaks in poetic language and quotations and whose thirst for knowledge creates a very interesting and surprisingly well-read protagonist. That's the plus side; the minus is the violence which fills even more paragraphs. Still, a good story, not up to the Duffy series, but better than many series I read. And if you listen Gerard Doyle gives his usual splendid performance.
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