by Richard Perry
"OTHER PEOPLE HAVE a nationality," Brendan Behan. "The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis" In his third crime novel, Kaddish in Dublin (HarperCollins, 281 pages, $19.95 cloth), John Brady attempts the onerous task of weaving together strands from both Irish and Jewish skeins of anxiety. The son of a prominent Dublin judge who looms large in the Jewish community washes up on a local beach, and the task of investigating the murder falls to the police detective Matt Minogue, a Maigret-like character infinitely sensitive to the subtleties of protocol. Was the murder a result of PLO terrorism; was it in some fashion connected to an IRA-linked conspiracy; or does the matter rest within the Jewish community itself? While probing these delicate issues of possibility, Minogue must also be wary of departmental politics and its murky relationship to Dublin`s power barons.
Brady has won praise for his previous two crime novels featuring Matt Minogue. He is by no means a pulp author; on the contrary, his excellent ear for Irish language - which is, in its way, as different from English speech as is New Orleans patois - and his sensitivity to the way that locution can reveal character make his writing dense, purposeful, and artistically wrought. Considered as pure, intelligent prose, Kaddish in Dublin wins respect; yet I cannot say that I enjoyed the novel. Despite all of its motivational possibilities (Jewish, Irish, PLO, IRA, urban and police politics), it becomes mired in intimations, imputations, interior reflections, and nuances that ultimately enervate the kind of momentum we seek in a crime story Kaddish in Dublin lacks excitement, tension, and intrigue; it is too shrewd for its own good.