This well-told, suspenseful tale will appeal to fans of Deadwood and Cormac McCarthy.

READ REVIEW

THE ABSTAINER

The Irish Republican Brotherhood battles the British in Victorian England.

Like McGuire’s second novel, The North Water (2016, etc.), longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this violent, noirish tale focuses on two men: policeman James O’Connor and Irish rebel Stephen Doyle. It's Nov. 22, 1867, in Manchester, and "the sky is the color of wet mortar." Three Fenians—members of a secret society working for Irish independence—are about to be hung for killing an English policeman. (McGuire based this on a true story but made up everything that came after.) A group of policemen are discussing the hangings, and there’s talk of reprisals; later, an informant says he's heard about a man coming from America “to wreak some havoc, that’s what they say.” The man is Doyle, a Union soldier from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A “strange bastard,” he meets with some Fenians and is told about O'Connor, a Head Constable who was brought over from Dublin a few months ago to assist the Manchester police in spying on the Fenians. O’Connor’s wife, Catherine, recently died and he turned to drink. Now an abstainer, he’s a “man maligned, a victim of ignorance and English prejudice.” O’Connor is beaten at night and key pages from his police notebook, stolen. Complicating matters, another transplant, O’Connor’s nephew Michael Sullivan, has come to Manchester from New York. Against O’Connor’s wishes, he infiltrates the Fenians to become an informer. O’Connor becomes infatuated with Rose Flanagan, whose brother Tommy is one of his informants. There’s talk of an audacious Fenian revenge plot, but they’ll need handguns. Reminiscent of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, McGuire’s taut, intricately woven novel captures the aura of a dark, violent world riddled with terrorism and revenge, where a “man’s life on its own is nothing much to talk about.”

This well-told, suspenseful tale will appeal to fans of Deadwood and Cormac McCarthy.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13387-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more