Black Irish by Stephan Talty

I have a fascination with serial murderers, the grislier the better. I snatch up books about them as quick as I can, but veer away from television shows because they seem too formulaic and predictable. The books that I have read/listened to recently have all been reliably gritty and suspenseful. I stumbled upon Black Irish by Stephan Talty a week ago and loved it.

Black Irish is delightfully gruesome and mysterious. Absalom ‘Abbie’ Kearney is a detective in South Buffalo. Even though her adoptive father is a revered cop, Abbie is considered to be an outsider in this working-class Irish American area because of her dark hair, druggie mother, mysterious father, Harvard degree, and a myriad of other reasons. Her troubled past makes her current life in South Buffalo difficult as she works to earn the trust and respect of everyone in ‘the County’. The County is full of fiercely secretive citizens who look out for their own and shun outsiders. Digging for the truth or trying to find out about her past is nearly impossible for Abbie without the help from accepted local Irish good-ol’-boy cops and detectives. Because of this, Abbie works even harder to prove herself to be more than capable and worthy of her badge, much to the chagrin of the locals.

When a mangled corpse is found in a local church’s basement, the very church that Abbie herself attended, the County finds itself unnerved. A message seems to sweep through the area. While Abbie is the lead detective on the case and is running the investigation, she finds that other detectives, and more importantly the locals, are taking it upon themselves to solve the case. The code of silence and secrecy that began in Ireland still exists in the County, making Abbie’s search for the killer even more difficult. This secrecy stonewalls her everywhere she goes, even at the Gaelic Club which her father frequents. Shaking down leads is difficult and Abbie soon finds herself receiving vicious threats and warnings.

The killer has a clear signature and with each passing day, Abbie thinks she is getting closer. With more people murdered, Abbie finds this case consuming her. While working to solve these crimes, the killer is slowly circling closer and closer to Abbie, until finally dropping into her life. Abbie is left to dig into her own past, her family’s past, how everything is related to the County, and also how the County’s secrets just may end up destroying everything in which the whole community believes.

This book hooked me from the start. The narrator uses different accents for each character which made them all easy to follow. Stephan Talty has woven a masterful examination into the cone of silence in closed off neighborhoods, even when that code hides dangerous, murderous pasts and people. I greatly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for more.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Jig! Does it get any more fun than dancing, wigs and accents?!

Sign me up for Irish Dancing lessons because after watching the documentary, Jig, I am pretty sure that kicking up one’s heels must be the funnest thing EVER.

Jig, a film by Sue Bourne, follows several dancers and dancing teams from all over the world as they prepare for and compete in the 2010 Irish Dancing World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Every one of the featured competitors’ stories is fascinating, but I was especially charmed by the young girl from Ireland who lovingly displayed the dress that her grandmother bought her to compete in right before she passed away. I knew she was my favorite when the camera zoomed in on the calendar in her bedroom and you could see where she had written in the birthday of Disney channel star, Emily Osment, write next to her goal to win the world championships. She may be a highly focused performer, but she apparently still finds time to watch Hannah Montana!

What I liked most about this film was how HAPPY I felt while watching it. Yes, there are emotional moments such as when a young dancer clutches his stuffed animal and discusses being bullied or when members of the underdog Russian women’s team are refused visas into Scotland. But overall, Jig absolutely sparkles with passion and joy and left me feeling that skipping may just be the best way to travel.

Ballykissangel – Village with Heart

Many years ago, one summer evening I was switching channels, trying to find something other than reruns. On IPTV, I came across a charming show about a village in Ireland. It had quirky characters, an English Catholic priest who didn’t want to be there and an feisty Irish lady Barkeep. Thus began my love affair with Ballykissangel. It was a wonderful BBC soap opera, which was broadcast 1996 – 2001. There is humor and sadness. Peter Clifford, ( Stephen Tompkinson) a young Catholic priest from Manchester, is transferred to the village of Ballykissangel, Ireland, and is taken by the dry-humored publican Assumpta Fitzgerald (Dervla Kirwan) who has almost the exact opposite of his good nature and dislikes the organized church. As soap operas, go this one was very good. The third season was the best as Peter and Assumpta declare their love and are going to leave Ballykissangel.

Both Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kriwan left the show at the end of the third season. The 4th, 5th and 6th seasons were good, but didn’t compare to the first 3 seasons. During the last 3 seasons a young actor, Col Farrell, joined the show. He is now know as Colin Farrell, star of many major motion pictures. Stephen Tompkinson now stars in a IPTV show called Wild at Heart, which we also own.

On Display — Irish Authors,Tales & Trips

What better time than St. Patrick’s Day than to honor the Irish?  Just so you have something green to read,  we’ve put together a display of some popular Irish authors at the Fairmount Branch.

When Frank McCourt came on the scene with Angela’s Ashes, it seemed everyone was speaking with an Gaelic lilt.    If you’ve already read that, then try his Tis or Teacher Man.

If you’d like a fun little romp, try The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell.  I blogged about it last year, so I won’t repeat myself.

Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, and for good reason.  If you’re thinking about traveling, this beautifully green country has got to be on your list.  Check out our travel section and then reserve your chance to kiss the blarney stone.

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