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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Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

HOUR GAME

A serial killer with a sense of history is the baddie in this latest from Baldacci, one of the reigning kings of potboilers (Split Second, 2003, etc.).

He kills, he leaves clues, he flatters through imitation: Son of Sam, the San Francisco Zodiac killer, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gracy, and so on down a sanguinary list of accredited members of the Monsters’ Hall of Fame. Suddenly, the landscape of poor little Wrightsburg, Virginia, is littered with corpses, and ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have their hands full. That’s because bewildered, beleaguered Chief of Police Todd Williams has turned to the newly minted private investigating firm of King and Maxwell for desperately needed (unofficial) help. Even these ratiocinative wizards, however, admit to puzzlement. “But I'm not getting this,” says Michelle. “Why commit murders in similar styles to past killers as a copycat would and then write letters making it clear you’re not them?” Excellent question, and it goes pretty much unanswered. Never mind—enter the battling Battles, a family with the requisite number of sins and secrets to qualify fully as hot southern Gothic and to prop up a plot in need. Bobby Battles, the patriarch, is bedridden, but Remmy, his wife, is one lively mischief-making steel magnolia. She’s brought breaking-and-entering charges against decent local handyman Junior Deaver, who as a result languishes in the county jail. Convinced of his innocence, Junior’s lawyer hires King & Maxwell to sniff around for exculpatory evidence. Well, will the two plot streams flow together? You betcha. Will the copycat-serial-killer at one point decide that King and Maxwell are just too clever to live? Inevitably. And when at last that CCSK’s identity is revealed and his crimes explained (talkily and tediously), will readers be satisfied? Only the charitable among them.

Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2004

ISBN: 0-446-53108-1

Page Count: 440

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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