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Death Of A Joyce Scholar [Mass Market Paperback]

Bartholomew Gill
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 1990

Trinity professor and Joycean scholar Kevin Coyle was one of Dublin's most colorful -- and controversial -- characters, until someone stabbed him through the heart on Bloomsday, the annual citywide celebration honoring Ireland's most beloved literary light. The poetic irony is not lost on Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr: one of the foremost experts on the works of James Joyce was slain on the so-called "Murderers' Ground" made famous in the author's magnum opus Ulysses. But the connection does not end there. And the deeper the intrepid McGarr digs, the more startling truths he uncovers about a victim's dark, licentious history, a list of suspects as vast and varied as the characters in a great novel ... and a motive for murder that can hide as easily in the pages of a classic book as in the twisted passions of a human heart.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Trinity College professor Kevin Coyle is found fatally stabbed after leading Joyce devotees on the annual Bloomsday tour. "Irish author Gill captures the reader's full attention with the humor and inventiveness of the eighth adventure featuring Chief Inspector Peter McGarr of the Dublin police," said PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

A rich, grand book. -- Denver Post

An absolute joy...A profoundly clever literary mystery. -- New York Times Book Review

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IT BEGAN DURING an unprecedented period of June heat. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading, Rut'ie and reflections July 29 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Superintendent Peter McGarr, one of Dublin's senior policemen, is confronted by a lady with a problem. Her husband's gone missing. Why then, instead of going to Missing Persons, has she sought out the Chief of the Murder Squad? It turns out that Kevin Coyle isn't truly "missing". He simply hadn't made it home without assistance. The help was needed because Kevin's heart had taken a knife. And Katie Coyle, with some help, fetched him to his bed. Dublin, however, was suffering an unusual heat wave. The unusual wake would have to close and the murder, after three days, finally be reported. Kevin, it seems "is going off now in the heat"!

This bizarre opening typifies the remainder of a story of a quietly dedicated Dublin copper. Peter McGarr, who starts his office mornings with a strong tot in his coffee, is compelled to deal with Katie Coyle, her unusual cronies, and Kevin Coyle's former role as a "Joyce Scholar". Joyce's magnum opus, "Ulysses", which McGarr pitched into a corner the first time he attempted it, figures large in this story. Not least because one of Coyle's tasks was acting as a "Joyce Tour Guide" for his colleague's tourist business. If the world needs yet another analysis of "Ulysses", Coyle has just completed one. It was to be launched just after he was murdered. Publishers being what they are, the release goes ahead on time, accompanied by the usual fanfare and parties.

McGarr, not being a "private eye", has a team of his own colleagues. Working, as they do, in Dublin provides both flavour and spirit to this narrative. Hughie Ward, a boxer on the side, is a young policeman with ambition. A detective "as soon as was possible", Ward is a notable figure in many ways. But when he slips up, the result is almost as devastating as the figure he cuts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Gill Strikes Again April 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was my second selection in the long list of Mr. Gill's books. I started with his next to last book and now know some things about his characters that I would not have found out going in the opposite direction. But even with that said, I find myself entranced by the characterizations in these two books. I have become quite comfortable with the repeating case of characters and I enjoy my time with them. The murder being handled sometimes seems secondary to other issues in their lives. While I did have some trouble keeping the three potentially villainous women in this novel clear in my mind, it was nevertheless a fun read. I have always avoided the reading of Joyce's Ullyses, but Gill makes an excellent case for my reconsideration of that decision. He also brings me back, clearly and strongly, to all my memories of my one trip to Dublin and certainly encourages me to return. All in all this is a fine story, well-researched and with characters well worth remembering.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the Peter McGarr series. June 25 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you don't know Irish detective Peter McGarr, this terrific novel from 1989 is a great introduction! Where else but Dublin might you find a James Joyce scholar dead, and McGarr and the Murder Squad of the Garda Siochana reading Ulysses, and occasionally Samuel Beckett, in an effort to understand what led to his death? Including brief quotations from Ulysses in this novel, Gill locates the action in places which are significant in Ulysses, talks about Finnegan's Wake, and even discusses "the novel of competence," represented by Joyce, as opposed to "the novel of incompetence," represented by Samuel Beckett, making these esoteric subjects comprehensible and intriguing.
Dublin throbs with life here, in the pubs, on the streets, in the university, and at galleries, the Shelbourne Hotel, and St. Michan's church. The action is robust, with many fights, fractures, and a few hospitalizations, as McGarr and his detectives concentrate more on justice than on the niceties of procedure. The characters we know from earlier novels are further developed here (and continue into later novels).
As always, Gill includes lively and wonderfully droll conversations--the teasing and byplay one expects of close and caring relationships--both at home and at the Garda station. And when Det. Hugh Ward and Det. Ruthie Bresnahan finally discover each other, one of the highlights of this novel, their scenes become both hilarious and steamy. Gill's excellent satire (the Beautiful People at a book-launching), his wonderful sense of the absurd (the murder victim's wife bringing the victim home, laying him in bed, and contacting McGarr only after he starts to "go off"), and his uncanny ability to create quirky and likable characters make this one of the best novels in this remarkable series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful July 10 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Witty, engrossing, full of good writing, the novel is a relentless pleasure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the Peter McGarr series. June 25 2002
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you don't know Irish detective Peter McGarr, this terrific novel from 1989 is a great introduction! Where else but Dublin might you find a James Joyce scholar dead, and McGarr and the Murder Squad of the Garda Siochana reading Ulysses, and occasionally Samuel Beckett, in an effort to understand what led to his death? Including brief quotations from Ulysses in this novel, Gill locates the action in places which are significant in Ulysses, talks about Finnegan's Wake, and even discusses "the novel of competence," represented by Joyce, as opposed to "the novel of incompetence," represented by Samuel Beckett, making these esoteric subjects comprehensible and intriguing.

Dublin throbs with life here, in the pubs, on the streets, in the university, and at galleries, the Shelbourne Hotel, and St. Michan's church. The action is robust, with many fights, fractures, and a few hospitalizations, as McGarr and his detectives concentrate more on justice than on the niceties of procedure. The characters we know from earlier novels are further developed here (and continue into later novels).

As always, Gill includes lively and wonderfully droll conversations--the teasing and byplay one expects of close and caring relationships--both at home and at the Garda station. And when Det. Hugh Ward and Det. Ruthie Bresnahan finally discover each other, one of the highlights of this novel, their scenes become both hilarious and steamy. Gill's excellent satire (the Beautiful People at a book-launching), his wonderful sense of the absurd (the murder victim's wife bringing the victim home, laying him in bed, and contacting McGarr only after he starts to "go off"), and his uncanny ability to create quirky and likable characters make this one of the best novels in this remarkable series. Mary Whipple
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walk Dublin with "Ulysses" tucked under your arm. Aug. 19 1999
By Jim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you know a little bit of Joyce and a little bit of Dublin, this mystery's for you. Don't be intimidated or fooled by the word "scholar." It's a police procedural that delves not too deeply into "Ulysses", but just enough to help Detective Peter McGarr track suspects through the neighborhoods and drinking establihsments that Joyce loved. As a mystery it doesn't tax your intuitive skills too much, and the line of the investigation threads logically. If you're going to Dublin some day and have a choice of reading "Ulysses" or "Death of A Joyce Scholar", I would opt for the latter.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Gill Strikes Again April 20 2003
By L. D Sears - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was my second selection in the long list of Mr. Gill's books. I started with his next to last book and now know some things about his characters that I would not have found out going in the opposite direction. But even with that said, I find myself entranced by the characterizations in these two books. I have become quite comfortable with the repeating case of characters and I enjoy my time with them. The murder being handled sometimes seems secondary to other issues in their lives. While I did have some trouble keeping the three potentially villainous women in this novel clear in my mind, it was nevertheless a fun read. I have always avoided the reading of Joyce's Ullyses, but Gill makes an excellent case for my reconsideration of that decision. He also brings me back, clearly and strongly, to all my memories of my one trip to Dublin and certainly encourages me to return. All in all this is a fine story, well-researched and with characters well worth remembering.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death in Dear Dirty Dublin July 4 2006
By Rocco Dormarunno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have a prejudice toward Bartholomew Gill's "The Death of a Joyce Scholar": having done my master's thesis on a section of "Ulysses", this is my favorite in the Peter McGarr series. This doesn't mean, of course, that you have to be well-versed in James Joyce's writing (although it helps a bit). Gill spells out enough about Joyce's works to keep the reader going. It's a marvelous mystery set in the same streets that Joyce walked along and wrote about. And while most mysteries work toward establishing a surprise ending, "The Death of a Joyce Scholar" has an ending that will have the reader shaking his head and saying "How didn't I see that coming?" Treat yourself to a different kind of mystery! Treat yourself to this!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kinch, the knife-blade June 25 2006
By Chiara Lama - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I liked the book, as a dilettante Joyce scholar myself. I also liked the atmosphere of Dublin on the brink of changing from the destitute town of the Sixties to the capital of the only European tiger. But I was perplexed by the reference to Kinch (the nickname of Kevin Coyle and of Stephen Dedalus) as meaning a noose, when Bock Mulligan himself clarifies its meaning: Kinch, the knife-blade (Ulysses, ch. 1)
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