Review: Black Irish by Stephan Talty

4 Stars

Absalom Kearney, a Harvard graduate and detective, has come home to South Buffalo.  She is the adopted daughter of a revered and highly respected cop.  But she’s still an outsider.  She was raised in an area that is known as The County, an insulated area where not only the color of your hair or skin matters, but also where your ancestors were from.  Even though she is from the County, she’s still finding doors closed in her face and people either afraid or too stubborn to talk to her, even to solve a series of gruesome murders that are taking the lives of men of the County.

The book opens with the murder of Jimmy Ryan.  The point of view is from the victim and you get to feel his terror as he’s faced with his killer.  It was a hell of an opening to a book.  He was ultimately found murdered in the basement of a church.  The real mystery begins when Abbie and her partner go to question the family.  They are faced with a wall of silence and excuses.  No one wants to talk and the police can’t understand it.  Why wouldn’t you want to find the person who just took away your husband?  What does this community have to hide?

Abbie begins her investigation and learns that this community has more than a few skeletons in their closets.  The violence intensifies and the body count rises.  Abbie and her father are also targeted by the killer when he leaves his bizarre calling card at her door.  The more she digs, the more she finds that the roots in these murders go far deeper than she could have ever imagined.  A world where a secret society can silence an entire community and let a killer get away with murder.  As she learns more about this society, she learns that it has touched her own life and will have an impact that she never could have imagined.

I was incredibly impressed with this book.  The twists and turns kept you guessing right up until the end.  I thought I had the secret figured out several times, but then I was proven wrong time and again.  I will have to say that I was completely shocked with the conclusion.  I didn’t expect it at all.  I was fooled by one of several blind alleys that the author put into the novel.  It was perfect.

The characters were enjoyable too.  I’m always excited to meet a female protagonist, and Abbie was definitely a very strong lead.  I was a little sad to see her portrayed as crazy or troubled, but I also think that it’s probably impossible based on her upbringing and her chosen profession to not be at least a little bit troubled.  But this didn’t detract from the fact that she is a brilliant investigator and definitely someone I enjoyed getting to know.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good mystery with lots of thrills and healthy dose of gruesome.

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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