Publishing year: 2016
This is a new book that starts with a particular event.
One of the main characters is Martha Wilder, who we later learn is a freelance journalist and has problems with alcohol, and on this particular occasion she accompanies her friend Tara Bolton to the bank. Tara isn’t going to the bank for the usual transactions, but to talk to her sister Katherine, who is the main manager. The reason for the visit and Martha’s presence is that Tara wants to tell her sister she is a lesbian and has met a woman she wants to marry. However, Tara doesn’t get to tell her sister anything, since while they are in the bank, they are surprised by a gang wearing balaclavas and threatening everyone. It is a robbery. There are four of them, and when the leader realises that there are only a few thousands in the bank drawers, he gets furious. Then an old man in a wheelchair, who Martha had noticed, claims that he has money in his private deposit locker. So the leader and one of his men, who Martha thinks can’t be much older than fourteen go with the old man to the locker room. A shot is fired, and then the young man appears without the balaclava and holding the gun, and in that moment the woman who was pushing the old man’s wheelchair recognises him and calls him Roman.
From that moment on we learn more about the characters. Roman flees with the rest of the band, but the leader, Jimmy Carty tells another to get rid of him, but somehow Roman manages to reduce the other man and starts running, clueless where he is going. We learn more about Roman’s back story. He comes from Polish and when he was twelve, he and his mother Rosa travelled to Ireland as his uncle Lech had a catering business. However, all that glistens is not gold. We learn that Uncle Lech is a drug addict, and he dies of an overdose. After his death, Rosa is swamped in her brother’s debts, and he has to accept to live in a room that belongs to Jimmy Carty, her brother’s drug dealer. Rosa has to do several jobs and work all the hours under the sun, while her son, I imagine,l is left at this terrible man’s mercy, which I imagine it is how he got involved in the bank robbery.
Rosa got to know the old man she took to the bank in the nursing home she works as a cleaner. One night she was in the library, trying to study English, when the man, Tobias Hartmann, came in to find a job. Mr Hartmann is quite a cantankerous old man, but for some reason they started talking and he agreed to teach her English. That is how this special relationship started. Now the man is in a coma in the hospital, and Rosa, who witnessed her son holding the gun in the bank, keeps saying that her son is good and she can’t believe he could fire an old man like Mr Hartman.
Martha Wilder gives his statement to a police officer, and refusing to be seen by the medical staff, she goes home. The men hit her and now she has a bump on her head and a couple of cracked ribs. Then she receives the visit of her ex-boyfriend Cillian Larkin. We learn that they had a good relationship, but I have the hunch that they broke up because of her problems with drink. Yet, you can still feel that there is chemistry and sexual tension between them when they re-meet. They broke up two years ago, and in the meantime Martha got married to someone who was like a hippy, but it seems the guy is not in the picture any longer, and Cillian is seeing someone in Donegal, Stella.
Cillian goes to ask Martha a few questions about the bank robbery, and Martha tells him what she saw. What Cillian is worried about is Roman, who he met at some club, and he has doubts the boy could have done what he is accused of. What he suspects is that the man who has got Roman involved in this business is Jimmy Carty, but the problem is that the man has a watertight alibi.
Interesting start. I am already hooked on the story and intrigued what will happen to Roman. I am also curious if Cillian and Martha will sort out their unresolved matters, because I have the hunch that they still have feelings for each other.