Book: Bad Day in Blackrock, by Kevin Power
Genre and Year of Publication: “Fiction” based on a real-life unlawful killing; 2008
Where I got it: Chapters second-hand book store
Length: 235 pages
Briefly: In August 2000, 18-year-old Brian Murphy was kicked to death in an alcohol-fired brawl outside a Dublin nightclub. Four young men, all with affluent backgrounds, were subsequently tried for his killing (read more here). This book alleges to be a work of fiction based on this incident, exploring the reasons why such a situation came about and why the Irish justice system ultimately failed the victim’s family.
Comments: This book infuriated me. It is not fiction, and the disclaimer at the beginning that “all of the characters… are fictional, and are not intended to represent actual persons, living or dead” is an utter LIE. Of course Conor Harris represents Brian Murphy. Of course Richard Culhane, Barry Fox and Stephen O’Brien represent Dermot Laide, Desmond Ryan and Sean Mackey. Of course “Brookfield” represents Blackrock College. Why lie about it?
The book explores the south County Dublin private-school*, rugby-playing subculture which definitely exists, and which produced the situation that led to Brian Murphy’s death. It is definitely worth exploring. But please, do it as a genuine work of research, of non-fiction, of scholarship, with standards of decency and with respect for the people and families involved.
Kevin Power can write. Kevin Power understands the dynamics of young adults in a certain section of contemporary Irish society. What a pity he chose to use his skills in this way.
(* In Ireland, “private school” means what the English call a “public school” – which is, of course, a private school.)
Challenges: Full House Reading Challenge for the category “Contemporary”; Reading Round Ireland (for Dublin).