Long ago, Declan Burke fled Ireland in the dark of night, started a new life in New York City, and has never looked back - until one morning when he picks up the newspaper and reads the obituary of one Cathal Murphy. He sees at once that the obituary is a coded summary of his own life and probably a thinly veiled death threat. He turns to Halifax lawyer Monty Collins for advice, but when Monty starts to investigate the obit’s allusions to Declan’s IRA past, Declan decides to keep his lips sealed.
But keeping old secrets becomes much more difficult after a burst of gunfire at a family wedding and the appearance of Leo Killeen, the commanding officer of Declan’s former battalion in Dublin. Declan and Monty are confronted by a cast of enigmatic characters, including the owner of a nightclub frequented by the New York mob; a sultry chanteuse; and Burke’s hotheaded son Francis, whose resentment and dubious activities set the family on a road to destruction. The subsequent discovery of a body in a rundown Brooklyn flat forces Declan to confront the suspicion that he has been manipulated all along by an unseen hand.
©2010 Anne Emery (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Strong characters and a vivid depiction of Irish American family life make Emery's second mystery . . . as outstanding as her first." (Library Journal)
"Emery tops her vivid story of past political intrigue that could destroy the present with a surprising conclusion." (Publishers Weekly)
Downloaded this immediately after having finished the first in the series. I really liked The Sign of the Cross, but found this installment lacking. First of all, the premise seems a bit implausible -- a man's sons are unnerved by his reaction to an obituary and immediately conclude it hides a death threat, launching into an investigation on their own. If their father's past is as mild as they have thought all along, doesn't the panic seem a bit of a stretch? Secondly, if the man himself knows all the "secrets," but refuses to discuss said secrets with his sons (telling the family to forget it), why would they insist of pursuing the search? (They are basically trying to discover things that their father already knows.) So that's my problem with the plot.
A secondary problem, with the characters themselves, is the womanizing priest...and everyone else's acceptance of this priest's 'character flaw,' even encouraging it. Regardless of your views on Catholic priests and their celibacy vow, it seems a little weird that practically all the characters (most of them Irish Catholics for whom the Church is a key part of their lives) treat this priest's frequent 'pecadillos' as somewhat amusing.
That said, the writing is good. I will probably give the series a third try.
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