Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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Gerard Brennan lives in Northern Ireland with his family and recently gained an MA in creative writing from Belfast University. Besides The Point, Gerard has previously published several other works including the novels Wee Rockets and Fireproof, two short story collections and contributed to a number of anthologies.
You can learn more about Gerard on his website.
Paul Morgan, small time crook, crosses crime boss Mad Mickey one time too many. He’s given a week to get out of Belfast or suffer the consequences. Deciding it’s wisest to start again, Paul drags his brother Brian along to a backwater called Warrenpoint (which gives the story it’s title).
But before he departs forever, Paul steals and burns a van belonging to Mickey who can’t ignore the insult. As the brothers settle into their new life, Brian going straight, Paul finding new and increasingly serious ways to break the law, Mickey hunts them down.
I devoured this offering from Gerard Brennan. The style is pacy, direct and hard as nails. There’s an underlying sense of humour throughout that doesn’t sensationalise the criminal acts that come thick and fast.
The characters are excellently drawn, the dialogue snappy and the setting bleak. The Morgans are similar, yet different. Paul is totally incapable of changing his ways. He knows he’s in trouble from pretty much the first page, but he can’t help himself, despite the consequences this has for his brother. Brian, deep down, doesn’t particularly enjoy the seedier side of life, recognizing the consequences of his actions where Paul does not. For example he apologises to a girl the pair had scared during a robbery by putting a postcard through her door, pretending to be from the IRA and a case of mistaken identity. Misguided but actually amusing in the fashion it’s written.
Paul relishes the move to The Point where he meets another strong and defining character, Rachel O’Hare. When we first meet her, she’s exacting revenge in a rather painful manner on an imminently ex-boyfriend. Then we learn she’s receiving counseling for assaulting a fourteen year old boy who’d tried to rob her at knife point. This girl doesn’t mess around.
Unfortunately, Paul’s continued bad behavior attracts the attention of Mad Mickey’s men, forcing the trio to make a decision – stay and fight or run and start again. The resulting ending was masterful and quite a surprise.
An example of the no-nonsense prose, when the boys are out committing the burglary.
”So which one?” Brian asked.
“This one.” Paul stopped dead in his tracks and turned to his right. He walked up to the front door of number 45 and grabbed the knocker. Then he pummeled the door as if it had spilled his pint.
An excellent story cleverly told by a masterful writer.
Some adult language.
Rating: ***** Five Stars