The eponymous antihero of Hamilton's sequel to Headbanger is once again Pat Coyne, a down-and-out Dublin police officer given to paranoid rantings and delusions of grandeur: "He shouted at the radio, railing against corruption as if it affected him personally. Every change in his country, every sign of progress was an assault on his persona." It hasn't been a good year for Coyne: he has been out of work since an injury during a traumatic fire; he's separated from his wife, Carmel, a New Age healer whose affections he desperately wants to win back; and his son, Jimmy, a young man with "a vocation for pure mayhem," is still living with him. Out on a bender one evening, Jimmy inadvertently steals a bag of money from thug Mongi O Doherty, who then kills Coyne's friend Tommy Nolan when he happens upon the scene. Jimmy becomes a suspect in Tommy's murder, but even worse, he's got Mongi on his tail. Plenty of other characters are thrown into the mix, including the bothersome Sergeant Corrigan, who is investigating the murder; Ms. Dunford, Coyne's platitude-spouting therapist; and Corina, a Romanian woman who owes Mongi money and is befriended by Coyne after she is caught shoplifting. For all Coyne's bluster, there is something sad and vulnerable about him; he is reminiscent of a (slightly) more well-adjusted Ignatius Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, as Roddy Doyle might have imagined him. There are plenty of hilarious scenes in this short novel, and Hamilton ties them together skillfully, but audiences will have more fun tracking Coyne's various tribulations if they first read Headbanger, released in the States earlier this year.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.