Black Tide, the second Jack Irish novel, finds Jack still working as a lawyer/debt collector/finder of missing persons/hobby cabinet-maker. For those who have not read the first book Bad Debts, Jack Irish was a successful criminal lawyer until a pissed-off client murdered his pregnant wife. From that point, life was all downhill for Jack, but he was eventually pulled from purgatory by his former law partner, Andrew Greer. Jack is still broken–some things can’t ever be fixed, but he’s functional–in an alternative kind of way.
Black Tide opens at a funeral with Jack and his “occasional employer,” Cyril Wootton. Gangster George Armit is dead. A funeral is hardly a place for humour but the author pulls it off, and this is a perfect example of the type of humour you find in these pages:
It was a small affair. Almost everyone George had known was dead. Many of them were dead because George had had them killed. As Cyril wryly notes, the mourners are the “most relieved lot I’ve seen since the plane out of Vietnam.”
The main plot of the novel concerns Des Connors, a man who knew Jack’s father, who comes knocking on Jack’s door,
“Looking for me?” I asked.
He gave me a looking over with clear bluer eyes. “Jack Irish.” Not a question.
He sniffed. “Don’t ya keep office hours?”
“Called out urgently,” I said.
“Should have put a note on the door.”
He carried on eyeing me, the look of a talent scout. A faintly disappointed talent scout. “Spit of yer old man,” he said. “Bag as. And the face. Bill was pretty hard though.”
I looked down at myself, gained no pleasure from the experience. “Well,” I said, “I’m a bit older than he was.”
The man thought about this. “Still,” he said.” Bit soft.”
No immediate way to controvert this statement occurred to me.
Des has, apparently, come to make a will, and Jack asks if he has children. This opens the conversation to include Des’s second son ex-copper Gary who is, according to Des, “smart but rubbish.” Des lent Gary 60,000 dollars with the promise he’d “double the money” in three weeks through buying shares. Two months have passed with no sign of Gary. But that’s not the worst of it. Des’s wife willed the house to Gary ,and Gary took an 80,000 mortgage out on the house and Des is about to be evicted. And that’s how Jack, who’s big on settling debts and obligations, get’s involved and starts looking for Gary who, as it turns out, is neck deep in some very nasty business.
As always, there’s a sub-plot involving racing and there’s also Jack’s private life which we can’t forget. He hangs out at the local pub and follows the local football team. The oldsters who sit on the stools seem planted there and are always full of opinions. The woman Jack became involved with in Book 1, Bad Debts, reporter Linda, has debunked to greener career pastures and Jack is missing her… sort of. I didn’t like this one as much as Bad Debts but it’s always fun to ride along with Jack Irish–no matter the destination. And if you haven’t watched the TV version, it’s well worth checking out.