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Book Review 247: Murder Will Out

September 3, 2012 - Harry Eagar
MURDER WILL OUT: Irish Murder Cases, by Tom Reddy. 190 pages. Gill & MacMillan paperback

Irish newspaperman Tom Reddy's little book is intended to show how effective the forensics services of the Garda (Irish state police) have been. It was written well before the popularity of forensics shows on American television.

The Garda claim to solve 99% of homicides, a rate that in America would lead to suspicion about railroading or fraudulent lab work, but the Garda is not the FBI, and perhaps in a small country with a small number of murders the claim can be taken at face value.

The working principle of the Irish investigators is that every action leaves its mark somewhere. On the infrequent occasions when a corpse is found on an Irish road, dozens of Garda go over the country on their hands and knees, looking for everything.

It is impossible to imagine American cops doing such a thing.

For an American reader, though, “Murder Will Out” stands as a powerful indictment of our gun nuts and the fallout of the Second Amendment.

The Irish are not a peaceable people. Several of the murders recounted by Reddy were IRA assassinations (the only famous crime in the selection is the bombing of Lord Mountbatten's fishing boat, a political assassination). And the murders selected were not chosen by Reddy to make any points about firearms or causes of murder, but only to illustrate good forensics work,

But it is remarkable how hands-on Irish murderers have to be.

Guns are common in the countryside, for hunting, and there is a shotgun murder here. But there are many more strangulation murders and beatings.

It is a lot easier to kill in the heat of the moment if you have a pistol handy.

American gun nuts are fond of saying that guns don't kill people, people kill people. That's true, but people who have guns are able to kill a lot more people than people who have only a knife, candlestick or bare hands.

Ireland, like Somalia, has suffered from the increase in the population of cheap but reliable handarms. After an offduty Garda officer was shot by bankrobbers, the minister of justice, Patrick Cooney, said: “Those who have introduced this cult of the gun into Irish society have a lot to answer for.”


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