A Donegal novelist and freelance journalist is offered a ghostwriting assignment bound to change his life, if it doesn’t end it first.
Something smells funny about Shay Govern’s pitch to Tom Noone from the very beginning. Why is an 81-year-old millionaire mining executive willing to act as a go-between for Lady Carol Devereaux, who wants to be credited as the author of a ghostwritten life of her father and forgotten novelist Sebastian Devereaux? What does the assignment have to do with the public announcement that Shay’s company is investing in an Irish gold mine? Or the hush-hush news from private eye Jack Byrne that Shay’s engaged him to find his old friend Gerard Smyth, nee Gerhard Uxhill, who’s been telling Jack wild stories about “some lunatic’s story about Nazi war crimes in Donegal” back in 1940? When Tom gets together with accountant Martin Banks, who married Tom’s ex-girlfriend, to brainstorm, an even more disturbing series of questions emerges about Sebastian’s novel Rendezvous at Thira, which tells much the same horrific story as the one Smyth’s just presented to Tom as gospel truth. No sooner has the case set Tom the question of whether art is following life or vice-versa than Smyth’s conveniently timed death puts Tom on the spot as the leading suspect in his murder, and he packs up his 6-year-old daughter, Emily, and takes a powder in a way that’s not likely to help his custody battle with his estranged wife one bit.
There’s much, much more, and readers with the patience to watch as Burke (Crime Always Pays, 2014, etc.) peels back layer after layer will be rewarded with an unholy Chinese box of a thriller. Make that an Irish-German box.