An engrossing beginning of what promises to be an involving generational saga about Irish immigrants.



From the The Irish Clans series , Vol. 1

This first book in a four-volume series highlights differences in the experiences of Irish natives fleeing their homeland in the early 20th century.

The painter Samuel Finlay, Archer’s grandfather, is one of the main characters in this debut historical novel, set during World War I. The author’s mother, Dorothy, appears as the artist’s infant daughter, Dot. Following his sweetheart Liz and hoping to forget the needless death of his younger brother Liam, Samuel migrates to Toronto and becomes an illustrator for the local newspaper. Meanwhile, Collin O’Donnell falls into a life of crime after his mother is killed and his younger sister Claire disappears. Samuel meets the thuggish Collin at the site of a warehouse fire, and sees something of Liam in him. The artist decides to make saving Collin his project. Meanwhile, Claire becomes a slave factory worker before she escapes and then trains as a nurse. She is heading to Europe aboard the Lusitania when a German torpedo sinks the cruise ship in the Irish Sea. She’s rescued by, and falls in love with, Irish revolutionary playwright Tadgh McCarthy, but she has amnesia and doesn’t remember who she is. So everyone is searching for something: Samuel for redemption, Collin for his sister, Tadgh for revenge on the Brits who killed his parents, and Claire for her past. The tale also grapples with what those quests may end up costing the four players. Archer has created colorful, sympathetic characters, all striving for better lives. He packs this dense volume with pungent details, giving the reader necessary context, and even provides eight pages of history at the volume’s end. Despite the abundance of information about the era, the narrative flows smoothly. In this first installment of the series, Archer only hints at the shared history between the O’Donnell and McCarthy clans and the relics that connect them. Frustratingly, he leaves the characters adrift at the book’s end (literally, in two cases), with the reader wanting more. But throughout, the author takes what could have been dry genealogical research and skillfully converts it into a layered historical drama.

An engrossing beginning of what promises to be an involving generational saga about Irish immigrants.

Pub Date: March 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9908019-4-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Manzanita Writers Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Connelly takes a break from his Harry Bosch police novels (The Last Coyote, p. 328, etc.) for something even more intense: a reporter's single-minded pursuit of the serial killer who murdered his twin. Even his buddies in the Denver PD thought Sean McEvoy's shooting in the backseat of his car looked like a classic cop suicide, right clown to the motive: his despondency over his failure to clear the murder of a University of Denver student. But as Sean's twin brother, Jack, of the Rocky Mountain News, notices tiny clues that marked Sean's death as murder, his suspicions about the dying message Sean scrawled inside his fogged windshield—"Out of space. Out of time"—alert him to a series of eerily similar killings stretching from Sarasota to Albuquerque. The pattern, Jack realizes, involves two sets of murders: a series of sex killings of children, and then the executions (duly camouflaged as suicides) of the investigating police officers. Armed with what he's dug up, Jack heads off to Washington, to the Law Enforcement Foundation and the FBI. The real fireworks begin as Jack trades his official silence for an inside role in the investigation, only to find himself shut out of both the case and the story. From then on in, Jack, falling hard for Rachel Walling, the FBI agent in charge of the case, rides his Bureau connections like a bucking bronco—even as one William Gladden, a pedophile picked up on a low-level charge in Santa Monica, schemes to make bail before the police can run his prints through the national computer, then waits with sick patience for his chance at his next victim. The long-awaited confrontation between Jack and Gladden comes at an LA video store; but even afterward, Jack's left with devastating questions about the case. Connelly wrings suspense out of every possible aspect of Jack's obsessive hunt for his brother's killer. Prepare to be played like a violin.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-15398-2

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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