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City of Bohane - Kevin Barry The language dazzled and taunted and tempted till the end, but I can't call the story or the ending satisfying. For all the detailing, much was not developed that could have been, and without a lot more effort, which, it seems to me, would have made this a better story.

It's a new book, just out this year, but I don't feel like explaining what it's about and will just insert the book blurb for those who are curious but don't want to refer back to it: Thirty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin' that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But they say his old rival Gant Broderick is back; there is dissent within the Fancy ranks; there are problems with the missus... and then there's his mother.

I'd call it speculative noir, and as language goes you can't beat it. But a couple of central characters never became more than props and had great potential to be more interesting. The big boss's wife, Macu, for example. There was much conspiring to manipulate her but that thread was never sufficiently played out. Much that was key to the central conflict seemed slighted, mostly, it seemed to me, because there were too many "extras" -- characters who amounted to clutter.

Also -- what's the deal with the narrator being the guy from the Bohane Film Society? I didn't get the point of that, and was not able to suspend disbelief as required to believe in his omnipotent view. It occasionally jarred me out of the story -- his references to himself in particular. When Macu attended the theater, I thought, a-ha, now we're getting somewhere with this, but it went nowhere. There were too many incidents like that -- throw-aways that if played out could've been more beneficial to the telling.

I get the riotous and messy and fantastic nature of things -- and the language suited that brilliantly, so much so that I can't give less than 4 stars -- but the story was ultimately too disjointed to merit 5 stars.