It is the hottest summer in Dublin's history, and Billy Sweeney, a middle-aged salesman with a failed marriage, a faltering career, and a tumbledown suburban home, has more than the weather on his mind. His beloved youngest daughter lies in a coma in the hospital, following a vicious and mysterious attack by a gang of street thugs. Devastated by the consequences of that terrible night, frustrated by officaldom, and failed by the system, Billy finally tires of seeking legal justice.
In walking the streets of a sweltering Dublin, plotting his revenge while recalling with bitter-sweet nostalgia the courtship of his wife, Billy Sweeney prepares himself for the violent act ahead of him. But it is not until his confrontation with the gang's leader that this suspenseful novel takes a brilliant and unexpected twist.
At once an edge-of-your-seat thriller, a powerful portrait of a desperate man, and a powerful meditation on loss and evil, The Salesman is an irresistible read, from one of the leading talents in contemporary Irish fiction.
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"A Good Salesman can sell anything." So says the protagonist of Joseph O'Connor's remarkable third novel, who is selling nothing less than a justification to commit murder. A divorced, middle-aged recovering alcoholic, Billy Sweeney is in a world of trouble. His beloved younger daughter was brutally beaten during an attempted robbery and now lies comatose in a Dublin hospital; worse, Donal Quinn, the ringleader of the gang who put her there, has escaped from prison before his trial, and the police can't find him. Then one day, Sweeney spots a disguised Quinn in an electronics store. He considers calling the police--even goes so far as dialing the number--before "a thought occurred to me, as clear as the moment when a migraine lifts." The bereaved salesman decides to take justice into his own hands. What follows is a clever, at times terrifying game of cat and mouse as Sweeney first stalks Quinn and then catches him--with wildly unexpected results.
Though The Salesman has elements of a noir-ish thriller, it is, first and foremost, an examination of love. Written in the form of a journal from Sweeney to his comatose daughter, the book leapfrogs back and forth in time, chronicling Sweeney's courtship and troubled marriage to Grace Lawrence, his alcoholism, and his eventual divorce--even as it describes his hunt for Quinn. The love between friends, between a man and a woman, and between a father and a child are all poignantly limned here; what sets The Salesman apart, however, is the relationship that develops between Sweeney and his nemesis. O'Connor has written a novel that brims with emotion while avoiding sentimentality. Moving, disturbing, at times grimly humorous, this is Irish fiction at its best. --Alix WilberFrom the Publisher:
"Mesmerizing...The honesty and bravery of O'Connor's writing make emotions authentic and redemption almost credible." --The Observer
"Gripping and moving...A taut, expertly crafted plot...He captures brilliantly changes of mood and unexpected quirks of behavior." --The Guardian
"Excellent...brilliant...The book, of its kind, is very well done." --Irish Independent
"[A] superbly written novel...The story of how Billy sets about trying to avenge his daughter is so compelling and horribly believable that you'll be turning down all invitations in order to sit indoors and read." --Literary Review
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