Reviewed by Jen Forbus
The myth of Finneagas is one that has always stuck with me and, as may be evident from the story I wrote using it, it is the one key incident that really stood out; the blistering of the fish skin and the nature of accident. I also liked the idea that the fish confers knowledge, as this is what a policeman is constantly seeking. In this case, it’s not so much the fish as the character of Finneagas who has the knowledge, of the river and those who fish it. And the pressing of the blister struck me as something that a man who means well but often makes mistakes would do — perfect for Devlin then. As for the nature of accident in crime? Not all killings are planned, nor are they motivated by the promise of millions.
McGilloway takes his Inspector Benedict Devlin to the short story format to investigate the death of a fisherman. While fishing for the rare elvers – baby eels – a fisherman is hit over the head, falling into the river and drowning.
McGilloway handles the short story format expertly, making use of every word. His story is sparsely populated, and every character is pivotal to the plot. The symbolic scene of frying fish emphasizes Devlin’s well-meaning but sometimes clumsy nature. McGilloway also creates a distinct and vivid setting.
Dialogue is strong; it probably didn’t need as many dialogue tags as McGilloway included, but it flows naturally and helps to develop the characters.
“Fisherman’s Blues” is a fun short, a great sample of McGilloway’s style, and another facet of Benedict Devlin.