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A Winter's Tale
He predicted the fall of the Celtic Tiger but Alan Glynn insists he’s simply a crime writer – and not a prophet of our times.
Anne Sexton, 04 Mar 2010
Alan Glynn’s Winterland has been described as the perfect post-Celtic Tiger mystery. Dealing as it does with murky property deals and corruption in high places, one could be forgiven for thinking Glynn had been staring into a crystal ball when he wrote it.
“I don’t claim to have had any great prescience on the matter at the time,” he says. “The boom was still in full flight when I was writing it. I changed a bit of it – little tweaks – because there was quite a long time between the publishers accepting it and it coming out. Publishing moves at a snail’s pace!”
Winterland has a clever, engaging premise. One night in Dublin a small time crook, Noel Rafferty, is assassinated in a pub. It looks like a routine gangland hit, but later that evening, a second Noel Rafferty – the petty crook’s uncle – is killed, this time in a road accident. Believing this cannot be coincidence, Gina, sister and aunt to the dead men, starts asking questions, questions no one wants to answer. Noel senior made his money on the back of some decidedly dodgy property deals, and there are powerful people determined to stop Gina uncovering the truth.
On the one hand, Winterland can be read as a simple page-turner. As the story unfolds, a conspiracy reaching to the highest government levels unravels, but the book can also be read as a hubristic tale of the boom years.
“One of the central images in the book is the building. There is a structural flaw in the building and I think I was aware that that could operate on some level as a symbol – as an in-built flaw to the whole economic structure that we were enjoying at the time. I didn’t want to make it heavy-handed or push it too much, but it was definitely in my mind.”
“There’s a book I was reading around the time, The Edifice Complex (The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World, Deyan Sudjic) about how throughout history various people have been associated with building projects, skyscrapers and even ancient buildings and the link between ego and construction like that.”