FORGOTTEN BOOKS: TAFFIN—LYNDON MALLET
This tale is better known as a 1987 film starring Pierce Brosnan as the eponymous Irish enforcer. I’ve watched the film several times, getting the same visceral enjoyment out of it I get every time I watch Patrick Swaze in Roadhouse. However, I enjoyed the film Taffin even more because it is a closer translation of its source novel than most film adaptations.
Taffin author, Lyndon Mallet, was a journalist and the road manager of a flying circus before becoming an advertising copywriter. In 1980 he published Taffin with British paperback publisher NAL, who also published two further Taffin titles—Taffin’s First Law in 1982, and Ask Taffin Nicely in 1984. Although, Mallet also wrote a dozen scripts for the long-running British cop series The Bill and various other novels and screenplays, the character of Taffin still remains his claim to fame.
Taffin is an Irish tough-guy debt collector who when not working or teaching young tearaways the fine art of intimidation, is happy to spend his time reading books on philosophy and theory. He is a big fish in the very little Irish pond known as Lasherham, and goes about his business in a quiet, polite manner. Nobody, however, wants a second visit from Taffin because it usually involves excruciating pain.
This is all very hardboiled and noirish in its own Irish way. Things heat up when the local community finds itself on the wrong side of ruthless developers who have sent their heavies into town to keep the locals quiet.
Fearing the planned chemical plant will pollute the environment and ruin the village, the townspeople see Taffin as their only weapon—even though they have always disapproved of his methods.
Asked to fix the problem, Taffin tries to explain the villagers will find his method of rectifying the situation unpalatable. They insist they can live with whatever he does, but Taffin knows different—he knows where violence inevitably leads.
I enjoyed the first two books in the Taffin series, and only in preparing this post did I find out there was a third book in the series—Ask Taffin Nicely. However, like the original Taffin title, this third entry appears to have dropped out of sight and been forgotten—but that’s a challenge that makes book collecting fun.