Dark tales hit the target: Waiting for the Bullet

The darkness at the heart of the highly readable debut collection of stories by the Hennessy winner Madeleine D’Arcy rings true

Past traumas and current crises haunt and hinder the characters in Madeleine D’Arcy’s debut collection. The stories are set in contemporary Ireland, London and New York. Things fall apart for a host of troubled narrators, with only some of them managing to regain a hold of their centres.

A toy gun brings hope for Melissa, the wife of a brutish property developer, Turlough, in the collection’s titular story. Initially fearful of the gun, she comes to cherish it, no longer willing to accept her position as household skivvy and cuckquean. Her game of Russian roulette at a dinner party makes for suspenseful reading. Desire and unhappiness are twinned again in stories such as Salvage and The Wolf Note, where Eddie and Eileen subsist in a marriage of mutual contempt.

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