With absorbing exotic background and richly developed characters, Mahoney (Edge of the City), a former NYPD captain, delivers an unusual procedural that rises far above the genre norm. A word from the Cardinal of New York's Archdiocese turns a routine missing-persons case into an international manhunt that bounces from Manhattan to Belfast, Dublin, and Reykjavik. When the mutilated body of a New York priest's sister, Meaghan Maher, washes up near Reykjavik after a suspected IRA bomb kills a British official, NYPD detective Brian McKenna is handpicked by his old pal Commissioner Brunette to fly to Iceland and pursue the case. Adroit police work by Iceland's small force--mainly Thor Erikson, who's working only his fifth murder in 12 years--helps McKenna to ID the killer as fired New York bomb-squad cop Mike Mullen. The Brits know Mullen as Michael Mulrooney, formerly of the IRA (whose slogan is "Once in, never out") and linked to suspect Irish cabinet minister Timothy O'Banion. In a neat conceit for those in the know, Mahoney has real-life murder expert Vernon Geberth profile Mullen. Erikson and McKenna's wives both suffer as Brunette and McKenna follow a body-strewn trail on the way to their confrontation with Mulrooney. This is a gripping police procedural distinguished by its insight, from various perspectives, into the troubles of Northern Ireland, by the flawless New York saavy, and by its raw portrayals of bad cops.Kirkus Reviews
A police procedural that combines workmanlike genre detail, film-me-please Hollywood violence, and a routine catch-the-psycho plot--and succeeds wonderfully.
Becoming "the NYPD's most famous detective" hasn't spoiled Detective First Grade Brain McKenna, the hero of ex-NYPD captain Mahoney's series (Hyde, 1996, etc.) No longer the maverick tough guy of times past, McKenna is now content to use his chummy connections with Commissioner Ray Brunette, who pretends to run the factionalized, highly bureaucratic police department, to speed his investigations. Tossed a missing person case involving Meaghan Maher, a beautiful Irish lass whose priest brother is a favorite of the Cardinal's, McKenna discovers a curious cover-up in place. Not long after Meaghan's tortured and mutilated body washes up off the coast of Iceland--the apparent victim of a psychopathic IRA bomber who also blew up the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Sir Ian Smythe-Douglass, and his wife--McKenna is on the plane for Erie, where, in the first of many improbabilities, he identifies the bomber, caught in a photo from a security camera, as former NYPD Officer Mike Mullen, who was bounced off the force after he was caught shaking down prostitutes. But did Mullen really kill both Meaghan and the foreign secretary, or is there some other shadowy player at work? Usually, fish-out-of-water tales that transport the streetwise cop into an exotic locale signal that the author is running out of ideas--especially when the climax involves such cinematic cliches as a brake-skreeching St. Patrick's Day car chase up Fifth Avenue, with McKenna at the wheel and Iceland's only homicide detective, the Dramamine-gobbling Thor Erikson riding shotgun. But McKenna's quiet dignity and reasoned appreciation of human foibles, combined with Mahoney's own love of quirky New York types and his skillful command of police minutiae, make the numerous incredulities here permissible.
A superb effort from and emerging master of the genre.Booklist
In the fourth Brain McKenna mystery, the New York detective becomes something of a globe-trotter. Investigating a woman's disappearance, McKenna winds up tracking a suspected terrorist to Iceland, to Ireland, and back to the Big Apple in a race against time to prevent the bombing of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Mahoney, a former NYPD captain, has been compared to writers like Joseph Wambaugh and William Caunitz and with good reason: the McKenna novels are hard-edged and realistic, graphic in their portrayal of violence. Readers who prefer kinder, gentler mysteries may want to approach this one with caution, but fans of gritty realism--especially those who have enjoyed Mahoney's previous novels--will find much to like in this one. Expect the McKenna series to become increasingly popular.Chicago Tribune
Dan Mahoney, a retired New York police captain, shines a harsh light on life in modern-day Belfast in his novel "Once In, Never Out."
Detective Brian McKenna is a canny sleuth with all the right connections to cut through the Byzantine world of the New York Police Department, which means he gets all the top cases. Now he has been assigned to help find a missing Irish-born waitress, Meaghan Maher, whose brother just happens to be an aide to the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York.
McKenna soon finds himself in Iceland, where Thor Erikson, the country's sole homicide detective, is having to deal with the assassinations of the British foreign secretary and his wife and the mutilation murder of an unidentified woman, whose body washed ashore. The woman turns out to be the missing Meaghan.
From Iceland, McKenna is off to Ireland to console the dead woman's relatives. In the process, he learns a lot about the sectarian troubles that have torn the island apart.
"Once In, Never Out" reads at times like a tour guide of Iceland and Ireland, but Mahoney doesn't sell his readers short. He keeps the action moving as McKenna heads back to New York, where he faces a battle of wills with a rouge IRA killer with connections to the police department.New York Times
Call me a kvetch, but I can't buy the premise that a New York City police detective (not even the NYPD's "most famous detective") would be traipsing around Iceland, Belfast, and Dublin on an international political case involving I.R.A. terrorist bombings and the assassination of the British Foreign Secretary. Dan Mahoney offers a rationale in Once In, Never Out, for Detective Brian McKenna's extraordinary assignment. Officially, he is sent to Reykjavik to investigate the murder of Meaghan Maher, the sister of an aide to the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, who ran afoul of an I.R.A. bomber while changing planes in Iceland. It's a stretch.
But if McKenna looks awkward having a heart-to-heart with an Irish cabinet minister, he's wholly believable when he pitches in to help his Icelandic counterpart, Thor Erikson, on the detailed forensic procedures of working the murder case. Mahoney, a retired police captain with 25 years' experience, knows the drill on conducting a manhunt for the "total psychopathic sexual sadist" who made mush of Meaghan, and he takes us through the crime scene photos, the morgue visits, the criminal profiling, the computer searches and all the rest of it with scientific precision and absolute authenticity.Roanoke Times
I have found a new author who both entertains and educates. Dan Mahoney is a retired New York police detective. In this book, he shows that he knows his way around New York City, but he doesn't stop there. He takes us to Iceland and explains the workings of the Icelandic police force and judicial system. Then he takes us to Northern Ireland and explains the nature of the various police agencies, the hatred that exists there, and the reasons for the hatred. Thus we have an educational book, but Mahoney gives us much more--a murder mystery with all the trimmings.
This is Mahoney's fourth book since retiring from the police department. I will certainly look for the first three in the series featuring Detective First Grade Brian McKenna which is reminiscent of Ed McBain's 89th Precinct series.
The title of this book is reputed to be the slogan of the IRA. Great title, great book.Irish Echo
Often, the redoubtable book reviewer receives a volume that can be read on schedule, maybe 100 pages a day or so. These assignments are good, as it's possible for the reviewer to maintain some semblance of a normal work day. Other books are more difficult. One reads as little as possible in any one sitting, and the review promised the editor in a week may take a month to deliver, contributing not only to the editor's exasperation but to the general financial instability of the reviewer.
And then there are the rare jobs like Dan Mahoney's "Once In, Never Out," where the reviewer sits and reads, sits and reads, not bothering with the vagaries of running to the store for food or a pack of cigarettes and no worrying when the significant other shouts, "Aren't you ever going to get out of that chair and take a shower?"
Mahoney--interestingly enough the brother of rocker Eddie Money--was born and raised in New York City, spent time in Vietnam with the marines and was a member of the New York City Police Department for 25 years, retiring as a captain. In his new novel, these experiences are apparent. The guy knows what he's writing about, whether it's the unique properties of C-4 explosive or the nuances of living at the Gramercy Park Hotel. He is also the author of three previous well-received novels, and the writing experience shows.
"Once In, Never Out" is a non-stop rollercoaster ride of a thriller, taking the reader from New York to Iceland, to Belfast and Dublin, then back. The memorable cast of characters--Det. Brian McKenna and his many cop partners in New York, Inspector Thor Erikson and his wife in Reyjavik, a thinly disguised IRA character called Martin McGuinn in the North, a corrupt cabinet minister and his double-agent secretary in Dublin and many more--are, as they say, "torn from today's headlines."
Characterization in novels of this genre is often fairly one-dimensional, but that is definitely not the case here. The author has the ability to make you care about his people, and remember them. Harrison Ford, Bill Pullman, Michael Douglas and any number of other film stars casting about for a new project need look no further.
There are many IRA-American mystery novels on the market today, and one never wishes to give away too much plot-wise about them. Still, the suspense generated concerning whether Det. Brian McKenna will be able to stop the maniac from blowing up the St. Patrick's Day Parade keeps the reader fully on edge for the last 100 pages of the book, no small accomplishment.
The maniac in question is a former police detective and IRA man who also happens to be a serial sex murderer. The IRA wants to put a stop to his shenanigans as much or more than do the British and Irish governments, the police in Iceland, where three of the murders have occurred, and the NYPD. As implausible as it sounds, the cooperation between British intelligence and the IRA--with New York Det. McKenna acting as a go-between--comes off as completely believable.
Mahoney's writing style is well suited to the material, fast paced and lean, with much of the story being moved along through the use of authentic dialogue. There's also plenty of local color provided for all the story's far-flung locations.
The author manages to keep his characters' use of foul language to a minimum, there are no explicit sex scenes, but the grisly descriptions of some of the murders are definitely not for the squeamish.
"Once In, Never Out" is a wild romp of a novel, great fun to read, and it is sure to swell the already formidable ranks of Dan Mahoney devotees.