THE SITE FOR DIE HARD CRIME & THRILLER FANS
iBookKindlePrintReviews

Black Irish

2 Mins read

black-irishWritten by Stephan Talty — The word ‘depression’ could have been coined with Buffalo, the city in northern New York state, in mind. The city haunts Black Irish like Marley’s Ghost. Its closed down, derelict buildings gather in the shadows like a group of undead hoodies. If ever there was a good place to die, then this is it. Black Irish is Stephen Talty’s first novel, and it is an impressive debut. You may have guessed that it is set in modern-day Buffalo – South Buffalo, to be precise – which is a place that has not been treated well by the financial failings of recent years.

South Buffalo has a large Irish American community, and this book sets its stall right at the heart of it. Our central character is Absalom ‘Abbie’ Kearney, a police detective who has returned to her roots after working in Miami. She is the adoptive daughter of a legendary local police officer, but still finds it hard to gain acceptance from the community in which she grew up.

When the mangled body of local ne’er-do-well Jimmy Ryan is found in the basement of a boarded-up local church, the seemingly sacrilegious setting has the locals up in arms. But the citizens of the neighborhood known as ‘the County’ are well known for being secretive and self-contained and Abbie has her work cut out to find anyone who will talk. Her search for answers is stonewalled at every turn, even by fellow cops.

Only when Abbie finds a lead at the Gaelic Club, where war stories, gossip, and confidences flow as freely as the drink, do tongues begin to wag – with dire consequences. But as the body count begins to rise and the killer’s bizarre calling card appears on her own doorstep, the hunt takes Abbie on a journey of discovery into her family’s murky history.

There is much to be admired about Black Irish. Talty has a deft touch when it comes to setting a scene, and both Buffalo and Niagara Falls are shown in a realistic, if unflattering light. The author is not about to win any awards from the local tourism agency. The plot, with its somewhat convoluted Irish connections, is imaginative, if a little clichéed in its depiction of the Irish American at leisure, and I had a pretty good idea of whodunit well before the end.

For me, the book’s main negative feature was Absalom herself. She is a square peg in a round hole, a Harvard graduate who still needs to learn a few lessons from the university of life. Problems with depression were hinted at but never really explored and the strained relationship between her and her adoptive father was also somewhat glossed over. It was as if the bare bones of a great central character were there, but just needed a bit more flesh to bring Abbie to life properly.

Hopefully this can be remedied as the series progresses. The real star of this show was the setting. Buffalo is definitely off my list of places to visit, but  I’d certainly like to go there again via the pages of a book.

Headline
Print/Kindle/iBook
£7.99

CFL Rating: 3 Stars


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related posts
iBookKindlePrintReviews

Movieland by Lee Goldberg

American author Lee Goldberg returns with his fourth Eve Ronin novel, which he loosely bases on chilling series of real-life killings that took place in Malibu, California in 2018. Research scientist Tristan Beaudette was shot dead while camping in Malibu Creek State Park with his…
KindlePrintReviews

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

Debut author Tom Mead is receiving considerable publicity for his historical mystery Death and the Conjuror. The story takes place in 1936 London, with its lead characters the elderly showman and conjuror Joseph Spector and Scotland Yard detective George Flint. Flint hopes Spector’s skills at…
KindlePrintReviews

Rook by Stephen G Eoannou

True crime and crime fiction that feels like true crime are very popular at the moment. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the story you’re reading actually happened or not. Which is fine, as long as it’s a good story. With Rook, Buffalo-based author Stephen…
Crime Fiction Lover