Created by Ian Truman
“I was a bit of an asshole sometimes. Maybe just a little.”
— D’Arcy comes clean, in Down with the Underdogs
Mind you, it takes D’ARCY KENNEDY a while to get his P.I. mojo working — in his debut, Grand Trunk and Shearer (2016), he’s basically just another working class yob from the Point working a dead-end job who discovers his inner private dick when his brother Cillian is murdered. It turns out D’Arcy’s “good at finding people,” and with the help of a few neighbourhood buddies he tracks Cillian’s killer to Hamilton, Ontario, and deliver a little hands-on justice.
But it’s the second novel, 2018’s Down with the Underdogs, that really drew my attention. It burns with class resentment, as Ian, now a young father, sees his old hood of the Pointe, not to mention his warehouse job, slowly being genrtrified out of existence.
So what can a poor boy do?
Play for a rock’n’roll band?
Apparently, all D’Arcy can come up with is going to work for the Irish mob, who are planning to nail down the local weed business before it’s legalized. It seems that D’Arcy’s little road trip to Hamilton has drawn their attention, and they can always use another smart boyo in its ranks.
The bleak cynicism and the weepy glorification of Montreal’s Irish working class (OOH! They drink! OOH! They steal! OOH! They fight!) gets a little ripe, but there’s an interesting morality play going on here, one well worth seeing play out.
But Christ, you know it ain’t easy — the actual “detective” work D’Arcy does is too often overshadowed by the various acts of thuggery that are a direct result of it, which are each in turn followed by bouts of hand-wringing and surprisingly whiny self-pity as D’Arcy tries to justify his new career choice to his wife, his mother and especially himself. And , I guess, to the reader.
Truth is, I started to sympathize with D’Arcy’s victims more than him. But stick with it — it’s worth the ride. Truman nails the grit and crunch of Montreal’s working class neighbourhoods (eg: “the shitty part of NDG, the one squeezed between the highway and Westmount”) and the industrial drearyness of some of its far-flung suburbs, pinning it against the complicated political, cultural and moral swirl of a constantly evolving city refusing to romanticize a single bit of it (except, of course, for his beloved Irish working class neighbourhoods). But even then, he isn’t afraid to let his characters be, well, as he himself admits, assholes.
My guess is that this one won’t be on the Chamber of Commerce’s suggested reading list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
According to his bio, Montreal-born Ian Truman (he’s a graduate of Concordia’s creative writing program) bills himself as “a hardcore kid turned writer (who) proudly claims to be from a working class family and has been straight edge and vegetarian for at least a decade now.”
- “Listen, I don’t want to be quoting Mobb Deep, but there’s no such tyhing as halfweay crooks. You know that, right?”
— an old acquaintance tries to put D’Arcy straight, in Down with the Underdogs
- “Montreal was fucked. There was no way around it. Montreal was just fucked. Corruption was too thick. Crime wasn’t even considered crime anymore. Honest people didn’t have a home here anymore. The working class was leaving fast, but I had a place in it. I was a crook and a liar and an asshole, too, but I had saved my home and had one for my mother now. No one was going to take that away from us.”
— oh, well. that makes it alright then, from Down with the Underdogs
- “D’Arcy Kennedy’s search for his brother’s killer is a gut-wrenching trip into a world of people left behind by gentrification, forgotten by changing politics and trying to hang onto what little family they have left. It’s authentic, it’s raw, and it’s got heart. It’s a trip worth taking.”
— John McFetridge
- “Truman has an incredible ear for dialogue…There aren’t two pens like [his] in the writing business.
— Benoit Lelievre
- “Truman offers an unflinching portrait of a city caught in the throes of gentrification, and one person’s struggle to fight back. An excellent read.”
— Sam Wiebe
- Grand Trunk and Shearer (2016) | Buy this book |Kindle it!
- Down with the Underdogs (2018) | Buy this book |Kindle it!
- Murder in a Distinct Society