Chris Flynn, 'A Tiger in Eden'

· Wednesday February 22, 2012

What happens when a cashed-up Belfast hard man has nothing to do but kick around Thailand and have sex with tourists for the foreseeable future? Well, pretty much what you'd expect. But not quite. The clever thing about Australian writer Chris Flynn's debut novel is the way he reverses the old trope of events conspiring to throw the protagonist's mundane life into chaos.

The hero of A Tiger in Eden, Billy Montgomery, has just escaped the violence of Ireland in the mid '90s. He has spent most his life blowing shit up and bursting skulls. Now he's on the run from the law and is forced to exist in near total tranquillity. How he deals with that tranquillity is the focus of the book.

Billy spends equal time working on his tan, getting his rocks off, beating people up and then getting philosophical about it. None of it would work if Flynn hadn't got Billy's voice totally right. It helps that Flynn grew up in Ireland and knows exactly how to make Irish verbal tics work on the page. He paints Billy as a man whose small horizons are expanding and, in the end, Billy's fascination with the way things work makes him an endearing character to kick around Thailand with.