‘The Glorious Heresies’ by Lisa McInerney – A Blunt and Sleazy View of the Irish Crime Scene


‘The Glorious Heresies’ by Lisa McInerney   (2015) – 389 pages


I am fond of Irish novels with a shaggy plot. When I read Irish fictions, I like them wild and crazy and funny and poignant; ‘The Glorious Heresies’ sure fits all those categories. It is a wonder, a glorious wicked novel, a wild Irish crime story written from the point of view of the criminals. It was about time I read this novel from the “arse end of Ireland”.

I’ve read other wild Irish fiction, dark comedies with brutal honesty about sex and drugs and crime, but ‘The Glorious Heresies’ is the first that I’ve read that was written by a woman. It is refreshing to get a woman’s angle on some of these demented matters.

You get the full impact of this crazy stuff with the criminals, the drunks, the drugs, the prostitutes, and the church on the women folk. For the male writers, the whole scene is more or less just a black comedy. With Lisa McInerney it’s more poignant and dramatic, and she accomplishes this without sacrificing the humor. ‘The Glorious Heresies’ tells the blunt candid truth without sentimentality.

Jimmy shook his head. Cowardice is nobody’s darling. So much of a man was stripped away when notice was given of his demise; it was no surprise to see them cry and beg and empty their bladder all over their shoes, but it was an ugly thing. What use was a man who couldn’t stand up straight to face his mortality?”

Jimmy Phelan is the brutal crime boss. He has set up his long lost mother Maureen with an apartment which is in what used to be one Jimmy’s houses of prostitution. She has just killed an intruder, a guy who was still expecting to find prostitutes there.

Jimmy liked to allow room for maneuver in his daily schedule, but “Clean up after your mother offs someone” was a much more significant task than he’d ever have thought to factor in.”

The prostitute that the guy was looking for, Georgie, no longer has a house but must fend for herself out on the street.

Jimmy hires the hapless drunk Tony Cusack to clean up his mother’s apartment. Tony’s fifteen year old son Ryan sells drugs for a dealer who gets his drug supply from Jimmy. Ryan has a girlfriend Karine D’Arcy whose parents are totally disgusted with Ryan and his family.

And then there is the talk.

Who told you I was the sentimental type? Said J.P., mildly.

Yeah, that’s a mistake I made, for thinking there was still a man in there underneath the bullshit.”

Phelan turned. He backed Tony up against the wall.

No one talks to me like that.”

Of course, it being an Irish novel, there must always be The Church.

It’s just, you know, the Christians might be daft but they’re trying to do the right thing.”

‘The Glorious Heresies’ is actually the first book of a trilogy; the second novel titled ‘The Blood Miracles’ has already been published, and the third titled ‘Rules of Revelation’ is due to be published this coming May.

This is probably my favorite kind of novel, so merciless it’s humorous. It is filled with uproarious cynicism.


Grade:    A




5 responses to this post.

  1. Loved this book. The sequel wasn’t quite up to the quality of this one.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Annabel,
      I know there have been other shaggy Irish novels like this before. There’s “At Swim Two-Birds” by Flann O’Brien which is now considered a classic. Right now I’m reading “That Old Country Music” by Kevin Barry which stories also have that spirit.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. So glad you enjoyed this Tony, I loved it. Annabel is right – the second, while still good, doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of this one – but I have a proof of the third and am looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person


    • HI Cathy,
      I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to figure out sooner that ‘The Glorious Heresies’ was a fine funny novel, but better late than never. That does happen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


  3. […] at Tony’s Book World reviewed The Glorious Heresies by Lisa […]



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