Bloodland begins with many disparate threads: an unstable Iraqi war veteran working for a private contractor in Congo; an underemployed Irish reporter writing a book about a D-list actress who died in a helicopter crash; a former Irish prime minister who is trying to restart his career; a US Senator launching a presidential bid. A bit confusing at the start, and I might have had an easier time if I’d written a few names down to keep people straight, but half an hour in, I couldn’t stop reading. Alan Glynn weaves together a good thriller.
The story is set primarily in post-financial crash Ireland. The main character is Jimmy Gilroy. The financial crash has left him desperate for work, so he takes a job writing about a Susie Monoghan best known for drugs, affairs with influential men and her death in a helicopter three years earlier. The helicopter left from Drumcoolie Castle, where numerous bigwigs were attending a corporate ethics conference. Several people have a secret related to that conference, and it isn’t Susie’s death. When Jimmy’s former mentor and PR flak tries to buy him off, he realizes there may be more here than a D-list celebrity.
As a journalist Jimmy is a bit unorthodox. Often he forgets to take notes, he gets emotionally involved with a witness, but as he stumbles over the clues he starts to make connections. While Jimmy is Dublin based, the book takes place in New York, Congo, Verona and London as well. Glynn makes each location appear authentic and interesting.
The corporate bad guys are a bit cartoonish, having almost no redeeming qualities. They’re entitled and nasty, and while they don’t have gold teeth or platoons of bodyguards, they reminded me a bit of Bond villains. But hey, it’s a thriller. Just read and enjoy.