The Convictions of John Delahunt

The Convictions of John Delahunt

Mysterious Book Report No. 166

by John Dwaine McKenna

This week’s MBR is going to be something out of the ordinary.  Those who choose to read it will likely have to use a little extra effort to get their hands on a copy, but the results are worth it.

The Convictions of John Delahunt, (Doubleday Ireland, £14.99-(about $25.00), 349 pages, ISBN 978-1-8162-014-4) by Andrew Hughes is a gothic tale of crime and punishment pulled from the pages of history in Dublin, Ireland.  The novel is based on actual crimes which took place in the 1840s.  It is a story of murder and the always despised informers who appear throughout Irish history like cankers on an otherwise healthy body.

In December 1841, the body of a young boy is found with his throat cut.  The crime fascinates and repulses the public in equal measure, but the outcry about it becomes deafening when the perpetrator is taken into custody.  He’s a lazy, irresponsible and shiftless university student named John Delahunt . . . who is also an informant in the pay of the authorities at DublinCastle.

As the novel begins, we meet John Delahunt after his trial is concluded; he’s incarcerated in the Kilmainham Gaol, awaiting his date with the hangman, unrepentant of his crime, uncaring of his victim and unfearful of his pending execution.  He is, in fact, busy writing his memoir, in which he relates his story with verve, veracity and enthusiasm . . . telling the how and why of his role as an informant, as well as all the details of his crime.  What emerges is a fascinating, detailed look into the inner workings and mechanisms of the early nineteenth century English judicial system of justice.  Filled with Dickensian type characters found in the alleyways, taverns, tenements and courthouses of Dublin, the beautifully written story also gives the reader a peek into the nefarious workings of the Dublin Castle’s policing methods.  Methods which included blackmail and duplicitous agents whose treachery sent many a person to prison or death.  All the more fascinating because it’s based on actual events, The Convictions of John Delahunt is a fascinating read from a creative new voice in literature.  It’s an outstanding fun and compelling read!

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John Delahunt

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