Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Black Irish - Stephen Talty - Guest Book Review

Published by Headline Review

Guest book review by Lisa Sargison

Initially the book seemed to move quite slowly, taking its time to introduce the people and events.  There seemed to be an awful lot of words spent on scene setting and helping us to understand just what a detective named Absolom Kearney would want in Buffalo. The writing is good and is, on the whole, an easy read.  There are excellent descriptive passages setting the scene of Buffalo, a city that not many will know well.  However at times the descriptive passages are badly placed in that the story is racing along and Stephan Talty has you gripped to find out where we are heading and he stops to briefly describe a scene.  WHY??? It often adds little to the story, and where it does, it would be better placed at the end.  Our detective, Absolom, spends time reflecting on her past, her future and the events that have led her back to her childhood home in Buffalo.

As to story, I found this to be great.  It was tense, spoilt only by the interspersal of the descriptions already mentioned, and followed a well thought out plot.  There was enough talk about police work to enable you properly understand the right way (and more importantly!) the wrong way of doing things.  Our heroine is a tough girl, who has much to deal with - her own demons never far from the surface and often an unhealthy influence on her decision making - but that is what makes the story interesting and gives the character that likeability factor! There is a lot of Irish/American history and background tied up in the story, with an element of the IRA as well.

I would say that this will be something for readers of the grittier crime novels, as some of the descriptions are somewhat graphic.  I would also say that the best way to read this is in a couple of sittings - I found that my first read of it didn’t do it justice but my second read was far more satisfying and I found that I was able to keep focused on the story better. Since reading this, I have found that the author intends that this is the first in a series of books with the detective Absolom and so perhaps he can be forgiven for including such a large amount of scene setting.

Many thanks to Lisa for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library!

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