To think that I actually won my copy of Adrian McKinty’s Fifty Grand in a drinks competition is a little worrying for such a sober witch. But it was my witch instincts that told me from the start that the likely number of drinks Adrian would have consumed at the Ambos Mundos bar in Havana was close to 66. Seems he was fairly restrained and it was only 61, but close enough.
And I will say this now; if Adrian really did start writing a sequel to Fifty Grand, and the manuscript really did get eaten by a dingo, then he needs to do something about that. Either give the dingo the Red Riding Hood wolf treatment or simply write it again. Because I must have a sequel. Fifty Grand is that good. I think the Hemingway bar surroundings did have some effect on Adrian after all.
This ‘novel of suspense’ begins at the end, with the heroine literally on thin ice in Wyoming. And things don’t look too good. There’s a few very bloody and violent bits in Fifty Grand, and the first chapter is one of them. Then the novel meanders back and forth in time, to describe what went before the cracking ice, and why, before returning to the ice.
It’s cleverly done, and gets the reader thoroughly interested in Detective Mercado’s journey from Cuba to Colorado and Wyoming, and her reasons for doing what she’s doing. I think Adrian is knowledgeable about life in Cuba, but I could be wrong. For an old revolutionary like the witch (well, you know) he has a somewhat negative view of life in Cuba, but I’m not saying he’s wrong. He certainly knows what he’s talking about as far as Colorado is concerned, having lived there for years (we’re talking Northern Irish writer residing in Australia), and it shows. I almost believed that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt really were in the book.
Another thing Fifty Grand does, is show us the lives lived by illegal Latinos in the US. Very enlightening.
Great book. Very exciting (housework suffered, and so did feeding the family), and Adrian has some wonderful minor characters. And I really must stop typing his name as a drain. Easily done, though. He’s too nice and polite for me to behave so badly.
If you’re only going to read half a dozen books this year, I have to insist on Fifty Grand being one of them. That’s despite the inconvenient fact that I don’t think it’s out in the UK yet. (When?)
The drawback of having liked Fifty Grand so much, is that I will probably have to find some time to read Adrian’s other books, too.