Old God’s Time

Viking. Mar. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780593296103. $27. F
In this latest from Costa-winning, two-time Booker Prize finalist Barry (Days Without End), Tom Kettle’s quiet seaside existence, nine months into his retirement from the police force, is upended by a knock on the door. Two young detectives from his old squad have come to consult on a cold case regarding the death of a priest, on which Tom and his former partner were the lead investigators. A subsequent visit from the police chief, his former colleague, indicates that Tom may be more of a suspect than a collaborator. As the mystery unfolds, secrets and ghosts come to haunt him. Having been raised and abused in a Catholic orphanage, he eventually found happiness with an adored wife, herself an orphanage survivor. But his years as a husband and father are behind him as he struggles with an unreliable memory to uncover the past and to help a troubled neighbor escape her violent husband.
VERDICT Admirers of Claire Keegan and Niall Williams will appreciate the Irish humor that masks deep sorrow. This novel’s words are well chosen, the sentences dazzle, and they all come together in a beautifully told, piercingly sad story.
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