Lashback by Frank Maguire: A Book Review


This novel pokes fun at bureaucracy and red tape - both official and otherwise - in an Ireland where the stuff is legion. While the frequently common response to a lack of preparation in Ireland is "Ah, sure it'll be grand", we also show an attention to detail that is unnecessary in many aspects of life. 
During the economic boom, apparently one could establish a hedge fund at the Irish Financial Services Centre in a matter of hours, a process that would have taken days in London's City or on New York's Wall Street. Conversely, there has always been a toxic Health & Safety / Not Part of My Job Description culture in Ireland too; a very disabling "You can't do that!" philosophy that frequently leaves things in a bit of a shambles. Transport delays in Ireland would result in sackings in other European countries, and perhaps even executions in the 1930s.

Frank Maguire has apparently been living in the States for quite a while, and yet he knows where he comes from. Speaking of period, try to channel a Chandleresque / Marlowesque/ Bogart or Cagney type narrator through an Irish voice: Whether that was his intent or not, Maguire has succeeded in so doing, in a surreal sci-fi novel set largely on his fictional rock off the coast of Kerry in Lashback: Devil's Chair Island. The narrative style fits wonderfully with the story. Maguire is a great yarn-spinner. The story starts out on what appears to be a bleak island off the coast of Ireland, with some wonderful descriptions that are both original and very stylistically Irish. Character names are imaginative, somewhat evocative of an earlier era, but many of them actually ring true in a society where we still have similarly ludicrous monikers.


A goat that requires tethering (in his victim's opinion) seems to have targeted one of the island's new arrivals, butting him at every opportunity. The story takes off from there - with some backstory about this same arrival. There is great imagery throughout. One character is described as "just a pair of hands", another conducting an affair with his boss's wife "wasn’t one to force the truth on her", and there are a variety of other Hiberno-English flourishes that always stay on the right side of paddy-whackery.

Check it out at Amazon or at Goodreads!