Critically acclaimed thriller writer weaves hints of native Tyrone

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A BEST-SELLING thriller writer has delivered a ‘deftly plotted, dark-spirited and periodically lyrical yarn’ in his latest portrait of contemporary Northern Ireland.

Anthony Quinn’s second novel Border Angels hits bookstores and online retailers this week, and has already garnered advance praise in the US.

His debut thriller Disappeared won him critical acclaim in the States, with book critics from the Washington Post, the LA Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle nominating it for a Strand Debut Literary Award, while Kirkus Reviews listed it as one of the top ten thrillers of 2012.

The novel, which launched the lonely, dogged and congenitally honest police detective Celcius Daly, went on to be a best-seller on Amazon’s crime fiction rankings.

Now the sequel Border Angels has been published by Mysterious Press in New York, with advance reviewers in the US already predicting that it will earn Quinn ‘more reader plaudits than a leprechaun has coins” (Kirkus Reviews).

Border Angels takes Daly’s life a step further, sending him to investigate a fiery road crash from which leads a trail of bare footprints in the snow — the evidence of a woman having run from the scene.

It doesn’t take long for Daly to connect this smash-up with a remote brothel on Northern Ireland’s troubled border, a people-trafficking scheme and a missing but resourceful prostitute with revenge on her mind.

Quinn has promised to take readers on ‘a journey into the murky, lawless world of border country’.

“The fugitive figure of Lena Novak is the book’s heart, and its central point-of-view”, he said.

“I thought it would be interesting to approach 21st-century Ireland through its borderland, to see it through the eyes of a foreigner who had been kidnapped from the troubled border of her own homeland.

“My goal was to demonstrate a society in flux, with not only the settling in of the peace process, but also a society adjusting to the arrival of large numbers of migrant workers and new forms of crime such as people-trafficking.

“As the borders in Europe dissolve, Northern Ireland has seen one brand of social unrest exchanged for another. Families from Eastern Europe have arrived to experience a new wave of discrimination and alienation.”

Quinn has been praised for the quality of his descriptive writing.

“I take a guilty pleasure in drawing the reader’s attention to the strangeness of the border landscape, making them shudder at a gruesome-looking blackthorn tree, a rotting cottage, or a treacherous bog”, he said.

“One line of description can condense a host of different feelings. The Irish landscape I know and love has its own geography of moods, an interweave of darkness and light, which I find constantly mesmerizing.”

The following is an extract from Kirkus’ review of Border Angels.

“A runaway prostitute fights to stay a few steps ahead of a brooding detective and a crime lord in Northern Ireland. Chief Inspector Celcius Daly needs to be a knight in shining armour after the car accident that paralyzed his wife and ended his marriage.

“When he discovers that the same need brought Jack Fowler, a real estate developer and former IRA gunrunner, to a watery end, Daly must determine if his death was suicide. Fowler had been misusing funds meant to regenerate communities in South Armagh, on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and his bubble was about to pop.

“Before he died, however, he set up an account for Lena Novak, the mistress he rescued from a border brothel. Jozef Mikolajek, the owner of the brothel and the women in it, is as determined as Daly to find Lena. A former cellmate of Fowler’s is also in pursuit.

“In Lena’s determination to get home to Croatia, she leads the three men in a direction none of them could have foreseen and at least one of them regrets. Daly’s descent into the black-market operations and empty housing developments of the border country gives the reader little hope but much sympathy for the two main characters.

“Quinn (Disappeared, 2012) can’t be accused of sentimentality in his portrait of contemporary Northern Ireland, the tough detective who grew up there and the even tougher woman brought there against her will.”

Border Angels is available from Amazon and local retailers such as No Alibis in Belfast.