An Irish-American family searches for a wayward member in this crime and family drama.
Merremount’s debut opens with the apparent death of Finn Malrooney in a house explosion in 1990s Boston. When no body is found, however, many people doubt that Finn is truly dead—including the members of his somewhat eccentric and often violent extended family. Finn’s mother, a Catholic woman of unsound mind who’s fond of quoting both the Bible and literary classics, sets her husband, Da, on the case. Da has some shady business dealings of his own, so he soon enlists other clan members in the investigation, including his sons and his grandson Michael. Finn was a high-level drug dealer involved in sketchy dealings with some Russians, so he has good reasons for not wanting to be found; as a result, tracking him down proves more dangerous than the Malrooneys expected. An extended cast of quirky, eccentric characters, including cops, lawyers and a homeless alcoholic, help round out this novel, and their various backstories give it extra dimension and atmosphere. For example, the description of Michael’s bar, The Fat Guy in the Hawaiian Shirt, begins with its first owner in 1915 and goes through several decades, simultaneously providing a glimpse of the city’s history. The quick, punchy dialogue, however, sometimes feels a bit stilted; at one point, for example, one character tells another, “Your vocabulary has been in obvious decline since Groton; from which I believe you matriculated only because of a rather Herculean tutoring effort by myself.” The book’s dramatic ending leaves room for a possible sequel.
A quick, entertaining, character-driven crime novel with a somewhat old-fashioned feel.