Lusby, Jim

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(James Kennedy)

PERSONAL: Born in Waterford, Ireland.

ADDRESSES: Home—Dublin, Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Orion Books, 5 Upper St. Martin's lane, London WC2H 9EA, England.

CAREER: Short-story writer and novelist.

AWARDS, HONORS: Hennessy Award for short stories.


(With Myles Dungan) Snuff, Glendale (Dublin, Ireland), 1992.

Making the Cut, Gollancz (London, England), 1995.

Flashback, Gollancz (London, England), 1996.

Kneeling at the Altar, Gollancz (London, England), 1998.

(Under pseudonym James Kennedy) Silent City, Heinemann (London, England), 1998.

Serial: A Confession, Orion (London, England), 2003.

A Waste of Shame, Orion (London, England), 2003.

Also author of scripts for the stage and radio.

ADAPTATIONS: Lusby's novels have been adapted for film and produced on Irish television.

SIDELIGHTS: In addition to publishing the novel Silent City under the pseudonym James Kennedy, Irish novelist Jim Lusby has written a number of gritty mystery novels featuring Detective Inspector Carl McCadden, whose cases inevitably take him into the dark side of modern Irish life. These mysteries, according to Keith Miles in Shots Online, are "quirky, original, devious and chilling."

In Making the Cut McCadden must discover who murdered Billy Power, a local factory machinist living Waterford, Ireland, who fancied dog racing and women and whose body has been found in a cargo container down at the docks. As McCadden investigates, the facts about Power's supposedly simple life become murkier and nothing is as it seems to be. The case takes him through the town's run-down housing projects, dog tracks, pubs, and finally to a factory owned by a prominent local businessman. "The sense of atmosphere is created with skill," wrote a reviewer for the Tangled Web UK Reviews Online, "and Lusby draws convincingly varied characters."

In Flashback Lusby takes McCadden into the world of amateur theatrics as the detective inspector tracks down the brutal killer of a young woman at the Belview Guesthouse, a place popular with actors. The victim's violent beating is similar to that received by a second crime victim found soon after on the other side of town. McCadden begins a search through a sleazy world of nightclubs, home-movie makers, and would-be actors before finding the information he needs from a gravedigger. The Tangled Web reviewer praised the character of McCadden: "Unconventional in appearance, with a cool, laid back charm, he observes and comments on aspects of human nature with sensitivity."

Lusby's Kneeling at the Altar finds McCadden stumbling upon a case on his own. While waiting in the emergency room at the local hospital, the inspector notices a man who is not waiting to see a patient and yet has flowers and candy with him. He soon discovers that the man is hiding out, trying to avoid a group of people outside who are intent on beating him up for being a pedophile. However, the case is more complex than it first seems when a group of local monks become involved and McCadden finds himself treading increasingly carefully in his investigation. Val McDermid concluded of the novel on the Tangled Web UK Reviews Online: "McCadden remains relaxed, perceptive, always himself in the teeth of the extreme frustrations of policing contemporary Ireland."

An elderly woman is found murdered in A Waste of Shame, apparently the victim of a botched robbery, but McCadden is not so sure. No money was taken and the body was carefully mutilated. Why a recluse in her nineties should be the target of such a crime is not clear, until McCadden begins to uncover startling details about the victim's early life. Along the way, he must deal with local police corruption and political and religious prejudices. Miles concluded that A Waste of Shame "is a fine novel, beautifully-written and highly recommended."

In Serial: A Confession Lusby experiments with narrative as he tells his story through three interwoven texts: a serial killer's confession to his crimes, biographies of the murdered women, and details about the ten-year police investigation to solve the crimes. Detective Kristina Galetti is drawn into the investigation when she finds that a recent homicide is connected to the string of unsolved murders. This latest victim's murder is described in the manuscript of a detective story found in the casket of a dead man; soon there are similar manuscripts found in other graves. Galetti believes the killer may be a writer of detective stories. While a critic for Kirkus Reviews described Serial as "a self-reflective—but ultimately navel-gazing—look at detective stories," Rex Klett wrote in his Library Journal review that "tension builds inexorably to a clever end."



Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 2, 2002, Margaret Cannon, review of A Waste of Shame.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of Serial: A Confession, p. 168.

Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of Serial, p. 134.


Shots Online, (October 6, 2003), Keith Miles, review of A Waste of Shame.

Tangled Web UK Review Online, (April 9, 1998), Val McDermid, review of Kneeling at the Altar; (March 3, 2003) reviews of Making the Cut and Flashback.*