Inconsistencies in voice and tone keep Loingsigh’s compelling, authentic narrative from fully taking hold.

Light of the Diddicoy

Privation, memory and regret combine to make an uneven but potent coming-of-age story in Loingsigh’s book, the first in a series about one man’s hardscrabble life.

Fresh off the boat from Ireland, young William Garrihy—rechristened Garrity thanks to a typo at Ellis Island—comes to America in the early years of World War I, bearing his family’s hopes for his new life. Although William has an uncle already living in Brooklyn, the family ties aren’t enough to provide him with a new start, and he’s soon on the street, starving and headed for a pauper’s grave. Good fortune arrives, however, in the guise of Dinny Meehan, the local leader of the White Hand Gang and a rising player in the dockyards. Under Dinny’s watchful eye and tutelage, William gains strength and the beginnings of respect in his new culture. However, his estranged uncle’s union agitation and an earlier failure to defend himself have come to weigh on him in the eyes of Dinny’s men, and clearing himself of that weight requires payment in blood. Loingsigh’s narrative owes much to historical accounts and family lore; he easily evokes the poverty, pain and hard labor that made up the working experience of the immigrant class in early 20th-century New York, giving the story a grimy verisimilitude. Although many of the characters are stock, Loingsigh uses them effectively as background, focusing attention on Dinny and William, who’s more poet than warrior, though he has the steel to commit violence when he must. The largest flaw the narrative has to overcome is the inconsistency in William’s voice, particularly in his use of dialect and time-appropriate exposition. In some places, especially in the early chapters, Loingsigh uses dialect rendered so heavily (and phonetically) that there’s considerable guesswork in figuring out what’s being said. Furthermore, the shifting in perspective between first-person present and third-person past is inconsistent, and it’s generally accompanied by changes in syntax and vocabulary that can throw the reader out of the flow. Despite these issues, the tale of William’s early days rings with passion and pain, ultimately making for an engrossing read.

Inconsistencies in voice and tone keep Loingsigh’s compelling, authentic narrative from fully taking hold.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988400894

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Three Rooms Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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