The Drowned Detective by Neil Jordan

drowned detective

This is on the surface a detective novel set in an un-named eastern European city, possibly Kiev or Lvov in Ukraine and features an English couple Jonathan and Sarah with their daughter, Jennifer. Jonathan, an ex-British Army soldier has set up a business specialising in finding missing persons while Sarah works as an Archaeologist. One day, an elderly couple come to the office and Jonathan and Istvan, his partner are hired to investigate the disappearance, years earlier, of the couples child, Petra. From this point the novel diverges from the usual lines of the detective story as Jonathan engages the help of a psychic and former beauty to help locate the girl. Meanwhile, Sarah is having an affair with Frank, another employee of the detective firm. One evening, while returning to the office, Jonathan saves a suicidal girl from drowning while crossing a bridge and begins a relationship with her though all is not as it seems…

The story has many twists to it with the mitteleuropa architecture of the city echoed by the gothic twist in the storyline and the tension heightens with the increasing political turmoil. I loved this book. Neil Jordan turns his hand to detective writing with the same skill as he shows in all his writing and film directing.

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Mistaken by Neil Jordan


This is a story of identity; two parallel lives in Dublin intersecting and switching over due to the similarities in physical appearance and personality between two people from the nineteen sixties to the present. Two boys who have grown up in different environments; one of South Side privilege the other from a modest Fairview background. Friends and acquaintances mistake each for the other the similarities in their natures allow them, in particular, the narrator, Kevin, to slip for a short time into the life of his doppelganger, Gerry. The book is superbly visual, the picture of sixties and seventies Dublin clear in the background of the stories of two very different lives intertwining. Like many of Neil Jordan’s stories there is a sense of displacement in the main character, he seems an onlooker to his own life which parallels what happens when he is actually misidentified as Gerry and passively acts out that role.

The other major subject of the novel is the relationship between Kevin and his mother and the enviorns of Marino Crescent, Fairview and Clontarf. The two of them are close; a favourite activity for them is bathing in the sea off the bull wall. His father in contrast, is a distant figure an on-course bookmaker increasingly absent from home who returns after a tragedy

There seems to be the screenplay for a great Neil Jordan movie in this novel a great movie about Dublin, Dublin people and how people interact, relate and how we all play a role in our lives. I’d definitely recommend it.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.