Thirty-six- year-old Detective Sergeant Armand Burke, who is an egotistical and arrogant Closseau figure without the bumbling mistakes, doesn’t always follow through with his assignments — or so it seems. While Burke is the butt of every joke of the Garda (Irish police), the derisive atmosphere slowly begins to change when he is framed for the murder of a prostitute who is found dead on Burke’s bed. During intensive interrogations, Burke has a heart attack and is in need of a heart transplant. Fortunately, there is a donor, and in due time Burke is almost back to normal, except he now suffers from paranoid delusions, nightmares and panic attacks – all flashbacks from the heart of the donor who was mysteriously murdered. After resigning from the police force, Burke sets out to find the real perpetrators behind the prostitute case.
Double Ugly is a noir fiction novel that is not only laced with dark comedy, but also replete with sex trafficking issues surround by sociopathic and religious themes. Rising author Jim Murray has created a handful of characters that are messed up in one form or other. Although he is the protagonist in Murray’s narrative, Burke’s childhood, coupled with his marriage, places him in a position where he desperately needs to be recognized. Filled with anger, Burke cannot always see beyond his problems. Yet he is always striving to do good works and trying to figure out where God fits into the overall scheme of life. On the flip side is Murray’s antagonist, the sadistic scumbag Double Ugly, who has his own viewpoint on God, concludes with: “Me? I abide by natural laws. The way I see it is that growth and decay are equal partners in this World. They are unconscious agents, and one cannot have a moral advantage over the other. Man strives generally to be an accessory to growth; I to decay.” Both are sociopaths. Ironically, while Burke calls Double Ugly “a degenerate psychopath,” Ugly asks if there is any other kind of psychopath. Burke affirmatively says, “Yes. There are normal law abiding psychopaths everywhere. Even the police. Men who choose to respect the wishes and needs of others. Men with integrity.”
Undoubtedly, noir fiction can be a difficult genre to work with because of its dismal quality. Yet Murray skillfully keeps his third person narrative moving by offering plenty of contrast. The story darkens when Burke’s continued sleuthing leads him to discover that the majority of Ugly’s victims are girls entrapped in sex trafficking. Amid those disconcerting scenes, Murray manages to incorporate lighter moments to break up the doom and gloom, such as when Burke ventures into the restaurant business and when he teaches drama to under privileged kids. Murray also constantly creates scene changes between characters within each chapter.
Double Ugly, the first volume in a new series, is riveting and mind boggling, entertaining yet very disturbing. And, indeed, is destined to become a classic for noir fiction lovers!
|Page Count||194 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|