"I think he was dead before I shot him." With these auspicious words begins a murder mystery so utterly unlike any other that it took fifteen of Ireland's finest writers (working well below their peak) to bring it to its unlikely conclusion. The plot involves a mad search for the only manuscript of an unpublished novel by James Joyce, and features a stellar cast-including a sadistic sergeant with the unlikely name of Andy Andrews and the unforgettable mob boss Mrs. Bloom, a woman "who had tried everything but drew the line at honesty." Raucous, raunchy, gratuitously violent and completely hilarious, Yeats Is Dead! is a diabolically entertaining mulligan stew of a novel. James Joyce would be proud. From the Hardcover edition.
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June 11, 2002
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Excerpt from Yeats Is Dead! by Joseph O'Connor
"I think he was dead before I shot him."
"I beg your pardon?" said Roberts.
"I think he was dead," said Nestor. "Already. Before . . . you know."
Roberts looked down at the dead man.
"He was talking to me," Roberts said. "He was right in the middle of a fucking sentence."
"'Tell her I'll have it by . . .' if I recall it correctly."
"And now," said Roberts, "we'll never know what he was going to say. Tonight? Christmas? The light of the silvery moon? Holy Jesus, what a mess."
"But," said Nestor.
"Yes?" snapped Roberts.
"He went really pale, like, and he"--Nestor grabbed his left tit--"Well, he . . ."
"Clutched?" Roberts offered.
"Yeah," said Nestor. "He clutched his chest."
"He had a heart attack. Is that what you're telling me?"
"Yeah," said Nestor. "He looked terrible. His face. I've seen it before. I've a cousin."
"Who had a heart attack."
"And he looked just like that."
"And he's still alive."
"Oh good," said Roberts. "Maybe our friend here will stand up in a minute and shake himself. But hang on, though. You didn't shoot your cousin, sure you didn't?"
"And why would you have?" said Roberts. "Sure, he's your cousin."
". . . I," said Nestor.
And then Roberts hit him. Hard.
"What'll I do with you?" Roberts said.
And he hit him again, another almost friendly whack across the ear, harmless but for the car keys clasped between his fingers.