Robert Carraher over a The Dirty Lowdown blog has done a great review of my book “Muscle for Hire“. He very kindly told me to feel free to publish it on this blog so here it is…
“The Taco Town takings were took from Tori’s Toyota on the way back from Tulip’s” Jimmy nodded. “The Toyota too.”
What a great find! I was interviewing author Mike Faricy,
and a comment was left by one Sean O’Neill. Mike is from St. Paul, Minnesota but lives half the year in Dublin, Ireland and of course writes great thrillers. Sean on the other hand is from Ireland, via Scotland where he was born, and now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota! And, as we are about to discover, writes thrillers! Sean sent me a book, “Muscle for Hire”
which is one of the greatest books I didn’t know I was going to read last month….okay, let me put it this way. What a great book! Like finding a signed first edition of The Maltese Falcon
for a dollar at a yard sale.
Ralph Tooley is a “gap year” student, in English…okay in American English, that means he is taking a sabbatical, a few months off of college. Tooley has already completed his first year at Glasgow University in English Literature when his dad gave him an ultimatum. Quit hanging out with his rough friends or leave the country for a few months. At least that is his dads excuse. After all, Tooley is getting good grades, but as we learn, no ones motive is exactly on the up and up in this dark, dangerous, violent and oh so damn cynically funny novel.
So, Tooley comes to St. Paul to work for his uncle Alex, a thoroughly corrupt Scottish
Mobster running numerous rackets in the Twin Cities. While a lot of kids take a break from school, most learn to say, “You want fries with that.” Tooley beats people up, wrecks furniture, breaks legs and intimidates customers of uncle Alex loan shark & protection rackets. Nothing like a little life experience to make one a better man….
Now, our Tooley isn’t a big guy, he’s only just over five and a half feet tall, but he grew up in the “poorer sections of Glasgow” where you learn to be good with your hands. And Tooley is very very good, and he most likes beating the Holly shite out of bigger men who under estimate him.
But, deep inside his Celtic soul, Tooley is a writer, he yearns for the halls of academia, the neo-Gothic architecture of the hallowed halls of the university, the quiet back-street coffee shops, the crowded pubs along Byers Road and Great Western Road enjoying a “wee goldie” and arguing over Shakespeare sonnets in the west end of Glasgow and sipping ‘real ale’. And, Tooley has a muse. Raymond Chandler.
Or rather a ghost, seeing as how Chandler can get rather violent himself. Chandler has unfinished business, see, he failed as a journalist and regrets that part of his life. So he mandates that Tooley make this right by becoming a journalist, and Chandler points out that Tooley just may be able to make himself enough money as a journalist to fly back to home and hearth. Tooley takes a job at a publication who’s reputation for truth is only just below that of The National Enquirer….
Along the way, Tooley meets another gangster, Big Ted. Seems uncle Alex has had Tooley collecting from customers claimed by Big Ted, and Big Ted has to do something about it. Namely cut Tooley into many pieces and send them to uncle Alex. Nothing personal, just a business memo amongst hoods. To complicate matters, Tooley is soon harassed by the FBI who has gotten wind of the shenanigans of uncle Alex and Big Ted. They want Tooley to inform on uncle Alex or else they will deport Tooley. Well, this is what Tooley wants except if he leaves uncle Alex, uncle Alex will kill him and if he doesn’t come through with the scoop on an art heist that uncle Alex has planned, Big Ted will kill him, so a friendly deportation is out of the question. And if Tooley hasn’t enough to worry about, suddenly his stash of collection money, along with the pittance he earns moonlighting for the scandal rag starts disappearing from his apartment. He suspects his rather rude neighbor, A. Schneider. And just because there is room in the fire for another iron, Tooley has caught wind of a terrorist plot to blow up President Obama while collecting for uncle Alex.
The story is shamefully entertaining as Sean O’Neill’s use of metaphor and original hardboiled simile is channeled through Tooley’s muse, Raymond Chandler. Chandler is often imitated, but Sean is spot on. Clearly influenced but totally and joyfully original. The story has more twists and turns, so many side capers and mini plots, whacky characters and twists per inch, that you wonder how any author could bring them all around and as Chandler said, “the solution, once revealed must seem inevitable.” And Sean O’Neill not only pulls this off, but pulls it off masterfully. I think I have found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Mr. O’Neill.,he is sure to be a hit!
Originally from Scotland, Sean has traveled about a bit, including living in Ireland, England (twice), Italy and the USA – which is where He lives at the moment. he has worked as a freelance journalist for about seven years and has had poetry, short stories and articles published in a variety of publications. In April 2011 he published four novels as Kindle eBooks on Amazon. They range from the thigh-slappingly funny, to the nail-bitingly tense, but mostly somewhere between the two. Be sure to get them at Amazon or Smashwords.
The Dirty Lowdown