The Black Irish

Mysterious Book Report No. 106

by John Dwaine McKenna

Are you familiar with the term “Black Irish?” It refers not to the color of one’s skin, but to the color of one’s hair.  The black Irish are descendents of the survivors of King Phillip of Spain’s Spanish Armada, a fleet of warships sent in 1588 to invade England.  The Armada was defeated by the British Navy, and the remainder was sunk by storms off of the HebridesIslands.  The survivors made it to Ireland where they remained, settled and met those fair and red haired Irish lassies and, well . . . you know the rest of that story.  The result is some Irish are black-haired and blue-eyed, and that is the subject of out MBR No. 106.

Black Irish, (Ballentine Books, $26.00, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-345-53806-2) by Stephen Talty is an edge of your seat psychological thriller about the hunt for a vicious serial killer in south Buffalo, New   York.  It’s an area known as “The County” and it’s home to large groups of Irish-Americans who cling to their clannish old country ways in a devastated city lacking in industry, jobs and hope.  When a savage murder occurs in the basement of a closed and shuttered, locked Catholic church, Absalom, “Abbie” Kearney is assigned the case.  She’s the recently returned adoptive daughter of legendary Buffalo P.D. detective Jack Kearney, who’s come home to confront her own troubled past and care for her father, who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Abbie is a raven-haired, blue-eyed beauty with experience in the Miami, Florida homicide division, a Harvard degree and the determination necessary to solve the most bizarre murders in recent memory.  The first victim was found tortured to death in the church basement.  The second was found in a public park . . . skinned alive.  Both had as clues, plastic toys, left at the scene by the killer.  As the killings continue Abbie knows that the answer to the crimes lies somewhere in her old neighborhood, The County.  But she’ll have to break through the distrust, the clannishness and the code of silence and secrecy that includes the police department and even her own father to catch the murderer.  Before she’s done, the case will take many strange twists and urns involving gangs, secret societies and human smuggling.  The conclusion is stunning and will leave you thinking about this hard-to-stop-reading novel for a very long time.  It’s impossible to forget and so chilling in its descriptive powers that you’ll be cool reading it on the hottest of hot summer days.  Although Black Irish is Mr. Talty’s first fiction novel, he already has a New York Times non-fiction best seller to his credit.  I think we’ll be seeing his name on the bestseller lists and a lot more.  Oh yeah.  He’s that good.  This one should be nominated for an Edgar for Best First Novel in my opinion.  It’s sooo damn good . . .

Summertime’s the right time to discover all that your local library has to offer.  Check it out for yourself and see.  Maybe even meet one of those smart and foxy librarians.  They read a lot.  They’re not surrendering to ignorance . . . don’t you either.

Have you had a chance to check out new and updated websites yet?  See what all the fuss is about at


they’re all HOT! HOT! HOT! Hot as summer in the city. . . hot as H–E–double hockey stick . . . well you get the idea.  We’re really proud of our new look.  And hey, while you’re there take a moment to like us on Facebook and Twitter.  You’ll get all the latest and newest from us first us.  First-us.  That means at the head of the line, before anyone else, and while it’s still hot off the computer.

Our new Rhyolite books are out:

The Boy Who Slept With Bears, by George R. Douthit III is an iconic and much loved story of a Ute Indian boy and a legendary grizzly bear.  It’s an award winning children’s book for ages eight and up, $14.95.

Colorado Noir, by John Dwaine McKenna is anthology of stories from the dark and seamy side of life and includes a Jake McKern novella, A Mischief of Rats.

Both are available at bookstores everywhere, Amazon and other retailers or as eBooks.  A limited number of signed copies are available from Rhyolite Press, P.O. Box 2406, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.  Add $4.00 for postage and handling, please.

That’s it for this week from out here “East of the mountains and west of the sun.”  We’ll see you next week with another New Mysterious Book Report.  Happy Reading!