FICTION

The Abstainer

Random. Apr. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780593133873. $27. f ;.
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It’s 1867, and the American Civil War is over and the Fenian uprising in Ireland is straining for freedom from England. Stephen Doyle, an Irish American veteran of the Civil War, fuels his appetite for adventure by joining the Fenian Brotherhood as a spy in Manchester, England. James O’Connell, an Irish head constable bearing a load of grief, heads to Manchester as well to start a fresh life and assist the local police in their hunt for Fenians. When O’Connell’s American nephew shows up begging for a bed and a job, he sets off a chain of events that link all three within the intense bloody construct of rebellion at a time when war is a running street fight, spies are lurking everywhere, and public hangings are commonplace.
VERDICT This tightly wound historical tale is full of the grit and grime of industrial England that is bleeding Ireland dry and setting the stage for the rebellion of the next century. More a noir thriller than historical fiction, it is driven by a thirst for retribution and freedom. Highly recommended. [star worthy?]

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