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.
I mentioned in earlier reviews of the two Anne Emery novels how I had stumbled upon this author and started my series experience by listening to Book 5 and then going back to the beginning and reading #1. I am now on #3 after completing The Obit. I must admit that I am surprised that Audible listeners only gave this mystery a 3.8 rating. The story takes place in New York and once again Anne Emery spins a fascinating yarn which makes the listener want to keep going.
First of all I want to underline that Christian Rummel is utterly incredible here. I liked him in the other two books but in The Obit the accents of New York are quite cleverly and convincingly portrayed. Further there seems to be more important secondary characters so Rummel has to cover a wide range of voices.
The second point which i failed to state an earlier review is the humor, especially the Irish humor. Despite the story being about murder, the involvement of the IRA and Father's Burke's father being a murder suspect, there are many funny scenes, scenes when I actually laughed out loud.
I enjoyed this mystery and am presently enjoying The Barrington Street Blues (great title).
Well worth the credits
This is the second Collins/Burke mystery I listened to (Collins the defense attorney, Burke the priest, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia).
This book introduces the reader to Burke's family (which unfortunately means this takes place primarily in New York City, and not in Nova Scotia, which might have provided a little of the Canadian flavor I was hoping to get), and focuses on the life of his father in Ireland and his involvement with the IRA. The references to life in Ireland 50+ years ago plus the presence of the IRA in New York City are the most interesting part of the story.
It's awfully convenient that Monty Collins, a Canadian defense lawyer, just happens to be in New York on vacation the entire several weeks it takes Burke and his family to get to the bottom of the mystery, which relates to his father's past. It also seems almost silly what a huge role Collins plays in solving a crime that is simultaneously being worked on by the NYPD. As with the first book, the relationship between Collins and his ex-wife, Collins and his children, Collins and Burke's whole family, etc. is practically idyllic (and not very believable).
One benefit of not very complex relationships is that it makes this a very easy read -- don't have to think too hard, nor do the emotional heartstrings get pulled enough to be a distraction.
Narrator isn't great, but is serviceable.
Not sure I'll listen to another one, not before testing out some other mystery series anyway.
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