Healy’s debut historical novel is a study of the delicate difference between revenge and justice.
This fine novel, framed around New York’s 1911 Triangle Waist Company fire, touches on turn-of-the-century immigration and the nascent labor and women’s rights movements. Paolo Calefati is close to his grandfather, whom he helps on the family’s farm in Italy. Before his grandfather dies, he reveals that Paolo will be the next “Mountain Deva,” possessing “a new awareness of the celestial bodies, Mother Earth, and the continuous cycles of nature and her seasons.” As Deva, Paolo will be able to use his powerful connection with nature to ensure the farm’s success. He will also, at times, be blessed and cursed with prescience, healing powers and a heightened capacity for reading people. After he kills a mobster’s son to save a waitress from rape, he escapes to New York City, where he’s swindled by immigration officials. Later, he saves a fellow Italian named Augie from a murderous fight but refuses Augie’s offer of work with the criminal Black Hand organization; he does, however, accept a welding job. Meanwhile, sweatshop worker Maria Pastore joins a union, and is beaten during a strike with other women from the Triangle factory; Paolo rescues her, and she soon falls in love with him. He later has a dream that leads him to play a heroic role in the Triangle fire but which also reveals him to his enemies. Although the novel’s plot is complex, Healy holds it tightly together with the actions of his well-drawn characters and his genuine talent for creating tension. The prose has a magical feel at times: “Paolo felt the soft warm sunlight upon his face and lost himself in a sea of gentle clouds that floated in an azure sky above the rolling surf.” Healy also portrays accents with only the slightest lilt for his Italian and Jewish characters, although the Irish accent is somewhat overdone (“Well, that’d be right kind. Fret none, I be findin’ out who’s in charge for yerself”). Overall, this aptly titled work is cunningly deliberate, with themes of vengeance reverberating throughout.
A multilayered historical fiction packed with action, suspense, magic and romance—great reading for general readers and literati alike.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.