Niall Leonard moved from Ireland to London to pursue a career in television and in discovering the city he found the perfect location for his first novel Crusher, a gritty, twisting story about murder in the capital's underworld that grew out of a project for the National Novel Writing Month.
The story follows Finn Maguire, a young man who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after discovering a man covered in blood, apparently bludgeoned to death. The victim is Finn’s father, an old actor with connections that run to the darkest corners of London. Finn isn’t exactly squeaky-clean himself and his criminal record and unfortunate place at the scene of the crime add up to make him the prime suspect. Finn realises he’ll have to conduct his own investigation into his father’s murder, before the police come asking him questions he won’t be able to answer…
One of the unusual facets of Crusher is its young protagonist. In the character of Finn Maguire, Leonard has managed to create someone both fearsome and vulnerable. Finn reacts to the death of his father with an offhand, almost cold sense of detachment and Leonard describes his hunt for the killer in the same practical terms, enhancing the grittiness of the world they inhabit. Punctuating this are flashes of vulnerability from Finn that remind us of his humanity, his loss and the fact that he is at an age where most young men have their whole lives ahead of them.
Niall Leonard has an extensive career in screenwriting behind him, having worked on an incredibly wide variety of television programmes, but it is clear from his own projects that this author has a strong personal interest in gritty drama and black comedy. These experiences all combine in Crusher to make it an exhilarating and compelling piece of crime fiction.
Crusher was in the running for our 2013 First Book Award.