Characters in the Minogue books
Matt Minogue

Detective Inspector Matt Minogue works in the Garda Murder Squad, in Dublin. The Gardaí, or Garda Síochána, ‘guardians of the peace,’ are Ireland’s national police force. The Murder Squad is part of one off the Garda specialist units, The Technical Bureau.

Minogue is OK with being taken for a bit of an iijit. It’s good cover for someone who is actually a grenade disguised as an easygoing, Irish policeman.

Minogue grew up on a small farm in a remote part of County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland. Intent on escaping that life, he took up work as a barman in Dublin to earn some money for departure for America.

Things were decided soon after, however, when he met his future Dublin-born wife, Kathleen. An exile in Dublin was very bearable if he could be with her.

It was Kathleen who persuaded him to give the Guards a try. His lacklustre career there almost ended when he was injured in a car-bomb explosion.

Recovering afterwards, he was visited by a friend, Jim ‘The Killer’ Kilmartin, head of the Murder Squad. Kilmartin, a wily blusterer, reluctantly took a chance on Minogue. He thereby discovered his Squad’s best investigator.

Minogue in turn became an unofficial therapist for the larger-than-life Kilmartin. This extends to rescuing Kilmartin from the consequences of his traits and also his carry-on, both on the job and off.

Minogue’s burden was eased by the arrival of Tommy Malone, a Dubliner who quickly became a target for Kilmartin’s acid wit about Dublin ‘gurriers.’ Malone grew up in a single parent household in a Dublin working class area. Though a ‘culchie’ himself, Minogue and Malone became partners in several key cases.

In his new boss Minogue, Malone unconsciously recognises a proxy father for the father who abandoned the Malone family. That same abandonment may be a clue to why Malone’s twin Terry became addicted to drugs and subsequently died of an overdose.

Minogue enjoys a pint of stout and a Jameson but often worries about being overly fond of the drop. He quit smoking when their first child Éamonn was born, but craves them yet.

His and Kathleen’s despair at the crib death of the infant Éamonn gave way to joy at the arrival of Iseult, a daughter with a temperament too reminiscent of the wilder Minogue ancestors, and a son Daithi.

Minogue long ago jettisoned any belief in the God he grew up with, but his take on things harks back to the naturalism of a preChristian Ireland.

It dawned on him that he lives a strange paradox: his success at clearing murder cases and teasing out truths comes from a displaced urge to revenge his child’s death so many years ago.

Chief Inspector James ‘The Killer’ Kilmartin

Kilmartin looms large physically and as a stereotype of certain old-school Irish males.  He’s a shrewd, tough, hard-nosed, old-style copper.  Community policing, social workers, probation officers - all these earn his sarcasm and fury. To secure leads, suspects and convictions., he quickly resorts to any means he believes he can get away with.

Kilmartin despises Dublin people and pretends to regret the hiring of Tommy Malone into the Murder Squad.  He sometimes manages utterly spectacular blunders, and places his leadership of the Squad he helped form at risk.

He and Minogue go back many years. He recognised Minogue’s peculiar temperament and talents. Minogue is the only person who can be direct with him, even to the point of calling him out as a Mayo bullock. Kilmartin is not liked personally by the Garda Commissioner, Tynan, and he’s uneasy about Minogue’s friendship with the same Tynan. 

The same Kilmartin’s bluster and belligerence result in his undoing, where he is humbled by a life event in the later Minogue stories. His subsequent efforts at self improvement are not to be relied on.

Detective Garda Tommy ‘Molly’ Malone

Tommy Malone is working-class Dubliner in his mid thirties.  He still boxes competitively, but poorly enough, in the Garda Boxing Club. 

Cocky and alert, Malone is a fast learner. He takes his job too personally, however. To him, the gangsters and crime syndicates who run Dublin now are enemies of his people, the working-class families trying to make a decent future for themselves. 

Though born a twin, Tommy Malone has the caretaker personality of an elder son.  This role came too easily and too tragically: his brother Terry died of an overdose. Indeed it is to Terry that other coppers advert when they size up the Tommy Malone as a suspicious item.

Malone remains unmarried. He’s bewildered that his love life veers toward comedy, but he recognises that there is something about him that puts people on edge. Despite this, he has a woman whom he believes is his soul-mate, Sonia, the daughter of a Chinese-Irish family who runs one of Dublin’s better known restaurants. Their unlikely bond deepens in spite of her father aka The Great Wall’s disapproval of their relationship, and Malone’s frightening nightmare awakenings - his ‘half three divils’
Wry and sparing in his dialogue, Malone’s respect for Minogue allows him to air his Dublin street-smarts, his drop-dead humour and his personal side.

Tommy Malone became such an interesting character that I am starting a new series centred on him. He still refuses to believe that he has what his therapist calls ‘a touch of the old PTSD.’ Sonia thinks otherwise and she is about to do a bunk on him.

Detective Garda John Murtagh

A diligent, athletic slogger, Murtagh likes his computers and combing through data - and also chasing romance in Copperface Jack’s - Coppers - nightclub.  He is often given the job of pulling information together and taking the helm - ‘hold the fort, Johnner’ in the Squad when Minogue and company hit the streets.

Sergeant Fergal ‘Plate-Glass’ Sheehy

A canny Kerryman who kayaks the dangerous waters of Kerry and Cork’s peninsula for fun,, it is often said of Sheehey that he can enter a revolving door behind you and exit the same door ahead of you. He secured his nickname when he was a probationary Garda officer on patrol in Dublin. Set upon by two brawling drunks now united in hatred for a rozzer, Sheehy propelled one through a shop window.

Garda Tom ‘Jesus’ Farrell

Farrell is a graduate of many hair-raising episodes in his former posting to Border patrols and organized crime task forces.  A horse-mad bachelor, he owns shares in a horse named ‘Stick-up’. 

Farrell earned his nickname in an episode where he single-handedly took out a duo of armed bank-robbers. One of the robbers turned out to be a boyhood friend of Farrell’s. Distressed, Farrell visited the hospital immediately after an operation to remove one of the three bullets he had fired at the culprit. The latter woke at last after the surgery, clapped eyes on Farrell sitting by the bed and, piously uttering the Holy Name, wondered aloud if he were alive or in hell or both, and closed his eyes again.

Detective Garda Shea Hoey

Shay (Séamus) Hoey was Minogue’s side-kick in the early Minogue stories. He suffered so much stress in the job that he needed to transfer out. He is much happier now, married and working in school outreach programmes where he can make use of the dazzling card tricks he learned while recovering from a failed suicide attempt brought on by alcoholism.

Éilís (secretary) pron. Eye-leash (Elizabeth)

Eccentric, Gitanes-smoking native Irish (Gaelic) speaker, Éilís has a tongue that would peel paint.  Her pose of gentle insouciance is a deflection. Though a clerical worker, by force of her personality and her extraordinary organisational skills, Éilís is capable of running the Squad single-handedly herself.

Commissioner John Tynan 

Tynan, aka ‘The Monsignour’/’The Iceman’  studied to be a priest many years ago.  He unnerves the likes of Kilmartin with his dry and cerebral manner.  Intrigued by Minogue, Tynan seeks him out often to hear candid feedback of rank-and-file Gardai. 

Minogue likes Tynan: few senior Gardai do, however.  In boomtown, roaring Dublin, Tynan has his hands full. Outside of a small number of Guards and family, few know that Tynan’s fighting on another front too:  his wife Catherine has advanced cancer.