You know where you are right from the beginning of Stiffed. You’re in Tadhg Maguire’s tense, edgy and funny nightmare. What you don’t know is exactly how badly things will become.
Tadhg (be careful how you say that, now) returns home from a bout of heavy drinking and wakes up in his bed with his arm round the corpse of a gangster’s heavy instead of his crazy girlfriend. As we’re soon to find out, the crazy girlfriend happens to have stolen a million bucks from the mob, which at least goes some way to explain the switch between the sheets.
Clearly Tadhg faces a dilemma. He can call the murder in, do a runner or dispose of the body. He chooses the latter and enlists the help of some good friends to make sure he gets the job done.
In retrospect, a runner might well have been the best option.
His good friends don’t know what they’ve let themselves in for.
It’s not long before there’s another body on the scene and the police come round to find out what exactly is going on.
This may have been a bad start to Tadhg’s day. As he looks back on events, finding a body in his bed is going to seem like a bright spot. Things spiral out of control and fall to pieces.
To my mind, the piece feels very visual and has the energy of a slick action film. Overlaying the chaos and pace are the thoughts of a very confused Tadhg. This blend works really well.
The sense of America as a melting pot for the diverse certainly comes across and the list of supporting characters are really well drawn.
Essentially I thought the read was a lot of fun. The crime and action angles work well, in the main as platform that allows Kitchen’s comedy to play out. The humour comes in many forms – in dialogue, situation, action and slapstick – which means it’s an entertaining read and an ideal beach companion (even if that beach is a cold, rocky expanse on the East Coast of Scotland).