In this sequel to his impressive debut novel To Keep A Bird Singing, Kevin Doyle delves further into the murky world of the powerful Donnelly family and their association with the Catholic church and the security forces. The clock is ticking as Noelie and his friends try to uncover the network of corruption and deception that the family have used to protect themselves and their operations. But Albert Donnelly is onto Noelie and there s nothing he won t do to stop him.
Edgy, dark and sharp, Kevin Doyle s A River of Bodies is a cracking political thriller restless, brilliantly plotted and topical.
They took a break and went outside to the back garden. It was grassy and bordered by a low ditch wall. Near the vegetable patch a small gate gave access to a path. Katrina followed it as far as the brow of the hill and then called to them all to join her. Noelie went. The sky was now entirely clear of clouds and the sun felt warm. There was lots of scrub and heather around; the heather looked like it was thriving.
From where she stood, there was a view of Horseshoe Bay. The headlands, forming the jaws of the inlet, sloped down to a narrow gap at the mouth. Beyond, the open sea looked choppy.
Martin and Black Gary joined them. Martin announced he was going to have a swim and Katrina decided to go too. They went across spongy ground, along rocks to a pebbly inlet that allowed easy access to the water. Noelie watched them strip and wade in.
Katrina swam out. Its beautiful, she called.
Liar, shouted Noelie.
Really it is, said Martin waving. Come on in.
Black Gary watched Noelie. Im thinking the water isnt what it used to be for you.
It was never my first love but youre right, recent events havent helped the relationship.
Noelie had nearly drowned in the summer. He had gone with Meabh to visit Albert Donnelly at his home, Llanes, on Sundays Well Road in Cork. Albert had drugged him, and when Noelie woke up hed found that he and Meabh had been imprisoned in an underground cavern, which was beginning to fill with water. Noelie had nearly died. Meabh had rescued him. Later on they had worked out that the cavern was hidden under the garden at Llanes. It was positioned close to the Lee river so that when the tide rose and fell, the cavern filled and emptied of water. Noelie knew he was very lucky to be still alive. He regularly had nightmares about what had happened in the cavern.
He shivered. To escape the memory he said, It is beautiful here, it really is.
I love it. Its good having you all here of course, but I like when Im on my own here too. He put an arm around Noelies shoulder. Dont worry. Well be okay.
Noelie smiled. Okay, Ill try a paddle. Face my fears. Isnt that what they say you should do? He removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his trouser legs and waded in to his knees. Theyll slag me unmercifully. Paddling at my age.
It is a bit sad, agreed Black Gary.
Noelie heard a cry from the swimmers. It was Katrina. Get in, you wuss.
On the far side of the bay, close to the eastern headland, a yacht was anchored. People were jumping from the boat into the sea, having fun. Laughter travelled across the water to where Noelie and Black Gary were standing. Noelie went over to a large flat rock and sat down. Black Gary joined him. They watched Martin and Katrina, who were chatting as they treaded water, about twenty metres out.
I took a look at Llanes while you were away, Noelie. Borrowed Hannahs car and parked up on Sundays Well, close by. No sign of Albert Donnelly, of course, but Robert came and went most days.
Robert Donnelly was Alberts older brother. He was also a former head of the gardaí in Cork city; he had retired in the mid-nineties due to failing health. From what Noelie knew, Robert Donnelly was suffering from Parkinsons. Since Alberts disappearance a full-time carer was staying with him in Llanes.
Robert attends Mass each morning. They have a specially adapted car, a boxy thing, a Berlingo. Easy to spot. Leaves again most afternoons to take Robert over to the day centre in Bishopstown. A few other people came and went while I was there. No one I recognised. And a skip was delivered.
A skip? Building work?
Looks like it. Theres something else too. New planting at the end of the garden along the riverbank. In the past you could see right into Llanes from the other side of the river. Not any more.
Noelie thought about this. One idea theyd had was to break in to Llanes. Alberts stash of home movies was still in the house: multiple recordings made in the late fifties and sixties. Noelie knew better than to imagine that any of the abuse films would be left lying around but the regular home movies could be useful for a different reason. Albert might well have recorded some of the social events he had attended as a young man and these could help with building up a picture of his life and who his acquaintances were back in those times. That might help them uncover a link to the wider group involved in the abuse at the farm.
Llanes is empty for about two hours each afternoon, weekdays. Two hours would be enough time for us to get in and out.
Two hours is plenty, agreed Noelie.
You can purchase this novel from Amazon
About the author
Kevin Doyle is an award-winning short-story writer from Cork, Ireland. He has won a number of awards including the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award (2016) and a CAP ‘Indie’ Award for Do You Like Oranges? The Worms That Saved The World, an illustrated children’s book (in collaboration with Spark Deeley) was published to much acclaim in 2017. A first novel is due in the near future.
You can follow the author on Twitter