I realize this is my third post about DI Jack Carrigan (from A Dark Redemption and Eleven Days, the first two Carrigan and Miller mysteries by Stav Sherez), and maybe this is a bit excessive, but I’m not apologizing. I find Carrigan to be the most intriguing character and the moodiest sleuth I’ve come across in quite some time.
As I explain in the ‘About’ section of this blog, “I’m primarily interested in ‘moody sleuths’ with intriguing backstories, troubled detectives whom we come to understand a little more with each new book…”
Until the next book in the Carrigan and Miller series comes out (next year at the earliest), I’m relying on what Sherez has given us in A Dark Redemption and Eleven Days for insight into why I find DI Jack Carrigan such a compellingly troubled detective.
In the previous two posts I talked about backstory and it’s role in my understanding of Carrigan’s character. In the first book, A Dark Redemption, an incident from Carrigan’s past is the primary focus, and in the second book, Eleven Days, I looked at what I referred to as ‘unfinished business,’ the death of Carrigan’s wife Louise, his feelings toward his aging mother, his preoccupation with cold cases, and his relationships with co-workers and superiors. I ended my last post suggesting I’d be taking a closer look at music and headaches in conjunction with Carrigan’s tinnitus, first mentioned, but not explained, in Chapter 16 of Eleven Days.
As Carrigan searches the basement of a burned out house where ten nuns died, he enters a cell where…
“The silence was absolute and his tinnitus sounded like a gale blowing through his ears, a series of high-pitched whines and crackles that even after twenty years he’d still not got used to. Sometimes, mostly in the lost hours of the night, he thought there were voices in the crackle, whispers between the sudden shifts of tone, a constant chattering of the dead broadcasting on some deep underground frequency.”
Previously, while reading A Dark Redemption, I’d noted Carrigan’s apparent sensitivity to noise and his frequent headaches, concluding that he might suffer from migraines, which would undoubtably contribute to his moodiness.
I’ve since gone back to A Dark Redemption and reread it, looking for evidence of Carrigan’s tinnitus and found an instance in the very first chapter. Carrigan is making a morning coffee when the phone rings… “London came back with a rush of clanging decibels. His left ear began its metronomic buzzing.”
It puzzled me that the next line began with “He staggered over to the table…” but after doing a little research I discovered that tinnitus and vertigo often co-exist, sometimes symptoms of more serious disorders like Ménière’s Disease. I ruled out that diagnosis since it’s usually associated with hearing loss and I don’t recall any mention of Carrigan going deaf.
However, what I did notice while rereading A Dark Redemption, particularly in chapters told from Carrigan’s point-of-view, is an abundance of sensory detail, particularly harsh sensory detail: “twitching fluorescents… rained down the light in black spears”,” the smell of mouldy brickwork and old wood exploding in their nostrils… a dazzling basement, tiled white and lit with savage intensity…”
In several instances these vivid descriptions are precursors to Carrigan experiencing nausea and/or vertigo in combination with a violent headache.
In Chapter 19 of A Dark Redemption as he awaits a witness, his response to the sounds he hears suggest something else.
“He started at every noise, every crackle of foliage or hum of rail. The scream of macaws and other exotic birds from the nearby zoo made him feel uneasy with unbidden memories.”
Carrigan’s memories and the ‘Ugandan backstory’ seep into so much of what goes on in A Dark Redemption that although I realized that Carrigan had been terribly traumatized by those twenty-year-old events, I didn’t initially associate them with his odd responses to noise and bright light. But when I read in Eleven Days that he’d been experiencing tinnitus for twenty years, it occurred to me that Carrigan might be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Studies of American servicemen with combat experience demonstrate an association between tinnitus and post traumatic stress disorder, so I don’t think it’s too outlandish to suggest that PTSD could have prompted DI Carrigan’s tinnitus, a valid reason for him not pursuing a career as a musician, and possibly the genesis of some of his mental troubles.
I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that Carrigan’s tinnitus and his pained responses to noise and light are more muted in the second book, Eleven Days, but I will be waiting impatiently to see how Stav Sherez chooses to develop his protagonist’s character in the third book of his Carrigan and Miller mystery series.
I thought I’d have time to talk a bit about DS Geneva Miller tonight. I do enjoy her character, she’s moody… but is she moody enough? I haven’t really made up my mind; might have to wait for the next book.