Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stephan Talty: Black Irish: A Novel

In his debut novel in fiction writing Stephan Talty creates a story that will have the lead detective looking to the past to find the killer of today.

Absalom “Abbie” Kearney is the adopted daughter of a revered cop, but that does not mean that Abbie ever fit in with her family or the neighbourhood growing up. But she always knew that she would follow in her father's footsteps and become a cop too. Now years later Abbie is a homicide detective and about to get a case that touches closes to home. A serial killer is on the loose in her old neighbourhood, the county (an Irish American part of Buffalo) but the neighbourhood isn't giving up the killer and all of Abbie's contacts run dry and she is stopped at every turn with lack of or misinformation. Soon Abbie too becomes the killer's focus but she swears she will track down the killer, even if it means wading through the bodies one at a time.

I was really impressed with Tatly's debut novel, it was interesting, had mystery that was expertly interwoven that kept the reader  wanting more. Additionally, there are some OMG moments within the book, that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and your heart or stomach in your throat. So lets just say that Tatly knows how to mix the mystery and the thrills together. The serial killer was also very interesting within this book, his story, his disfigurement, I just felt like I wanted to know more and more about what drove him to kill and why these men were chosen. I was just very curious about his overall story (when it comes to light there was nothing too knew as to why, but the how he became what he was is where Tatly threw something new in the mix).

I really found the history aspect interesting and well done by Talty. I cannot say how accurate the history part was, but all the connections seem to be there and for me I found out some interesting facts about Buffalo, Ireland and Canada, which is always nice. Additionally, Talty introduces this information in a way that it does not slow down the book at all and the information is spread out far enough that you do not feel like you are getting a history lesson, bravo Talty.

I'm not 100% sure I fully understand Abby as a character, there are things about her past and even present that are kept secret from the reader and I hope that Talty explores more of her character in a future novel if he is going to pursue a series. I think part of the problem of not being able to get to know Abby better is that she does not really know herself, or who her parents really were and how she became adopted (and her father was never really a loving figure for her, she always felt like an outsider). This is information is key to forming some sort of self, and with Abby lacking this information (although some comes to light later in the novel) Abby herself is not quite whole, therefore, I feel the reader never gets a sense of who Abby is.

I think my main concern or dislike within the book was Abby's use of sex in one scene in order to extract information, maybe Talty meant to show it as more than that for her, but it did not come across as so to me. I thought that that type of action or decision was beyond her character from what I was able to get from her. I'm not sure if Talty felt that he needed to have sex in the book and just decided to throw it in there, but I thought it was ill placed and not needed in the story at all, the information could have been obtained in a different way.

I'm not sure if Talty is going to make a series around Abbie Kearney. As I feel like I didnt really get to know Abbie that well in the novel, and I am interested in a character I hope that he continues on with her. This book was a great first venture for Talty into fiction writing, I enjoyed the twist, turns and on the seat moments, but if this is meant to be a stand alone novel I think Talty needs to work on his overall character development. I think those who like serial killer based novels will enjoy Talty's novel with its fairly sophisticated interwoven plot.


Note: The crimes scenes are fairly descriptive and some readers may find them disturbing.

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