MUSIC AND MYSTERY
If there’s a job in which mental illness is a benefit, it might be writing—at least, it helps Brian Caskey, the intriguing main character in Simon Maltman’s A Kill for the Poet. Caskey is a Northern Irish police officer turned author who assumes a new identity after a breakdown from which he can’t fully return. The author is left second-guessing the people and events in his new life, which helps when they’re actually untrustworthy. Approached by a mysterious Belgian who wants Caskey to tail a local man, Caskey gets in deeper than asked and things get rough physically as well as mentally. Also having a turbulent time is one of Caskey’s characters, P.I. Billy Chapman, who’s treading the same Belfast streets as Caskey, but in 1949. Chapman’s story, told in chapters that alternate with the present-day story, show that post-war Belfast was no quaint idyll. Like his fictional creator, Chapman is forced to take on work that sees him neck-deep in shady characters and life-threatening situations. Maltman’s narrative deftly switches between the past and present, and between seemingly genteel foreigners and grittier Belfast natives. Both stories end in unexpected and tense ways and will leave readers ready for more from Maltman—happily, this standalone work is the second in a series, after A Chaser on the Rocks.
Simon Maltman’s A Kill for the Poet is rich with musical references. IndiePicks asked Maltman for suggestions of music to listen to while enjoying his work, and below are his recommendations.
The Undertones: “Teenage Kicks”
Don McLean: “Mountains of Mourne”
Mark Lanegan: “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”
Blind Boys of Alabama: “Deep in the Hole”
Thin Lizzy: “The Black Rose”
Prince- “The Everlasting Now”
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: “Free for All”