The Inspector from Cumbria
In England of the near future, a mutated form of the neurodegenerative disease, “Hobbes Frieden,” has become a modern version of the plague. England is now a military state, quarantined and isolated from Europe and the rest of the world. Now, Cadace Hilbredth, dying slowly and deeply haunted by the ghosts of his past, reveals, through memory and dream, the tragic death of the woman he most loved and yet abandoned thirty years before, and, ultimately, his part in the spread of the epidemic. Spurred on by the unrelenting voices of the dead Cadace must come to terms with his past even as he and his daughter navigate across a ravaged, war-torn England, in an attempt to reach the Irish Sea, where they hope a safe haven awaits.
This Magnificent Desolation
Duncan’s entire world is the orphanage where he lives, a solitary outpost in the snowy expanse of northern Minnesota. Aged ten, he has no memories of his life before now, but he has stories that he recites like prayers: the story of how his mother brought him here during the worst blizzard of the century, the story of how God spoke to him at his birth and gave him a special purpose. Duncan is sure that his mother is dead, until the day she turns up to claim him. Maggie Bright, a soprano who was once the talent of her generation, now sings in a run-down bar through a haze of whiskey cut with sharp regret. She often ends her nights in the arms of Joshua McGreevey, a Vietnam vet who earns his living as part of a tunnelling crew seventy feet beneath the Bay—and his wounds run deep too. Thrown into this adult world, Duncan finds comfort in an ancient radio—from which tumble the voices of Apollo mission astronauts who never came home—and dreams of one day finding his father.
In the Province of Saints
In the south of Ireland, just beyond the town of New Rowan, young Michael McDonagh is growing up fast. The same families have lived in his village for generations, harbouring old loyalties and even older hatreds, and a person’s name casts a long shadow. Sometimes it seems that strangers know more about Michael than he knows about himself. Surrounded by the rough-hewn, often bloodied, hard-drinking men of the town, Michael longs for his father, gone off to work in America. He cares for his mother, racked by spells that put her somewhere between this world and the next. And he becomes involved with Cait, a local girl who hides a dark past of her own. When Cait’s mother dies suddenly, Michael’s father returns home, and a long dormant scandal is reignited.
We Were Kings
Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy
It’s early summer but already the city is in the grips of a heat wave, which doesn’t help tensions any as the fractures within Boston’s underworld are finding their way to the streets in payback shoot-outs between various mob factions and the police. When a body is discovered at the Charlestown locks, tarred and feathered and shot through the head, it appears to be a gangland killing, and almost immediately dismissed. However, Cal’s cousin, BPD detective, Owen Lackey, realizes that with this murder there may be much more at stake than his superiors realize. Urgent to uncover those who are responsible, he reaches out to Cal and Dante from the old neighborhood to help search the Irish-American enclaves of Dudley Square, Dorchester and South Boston for some sign of the killers. It is a journey that will take them into the shadowy, unspoken parts of Boston, a world of packed dance halls, Irish wakes and funeral parlors, of down-and-out immigrant rooming houses, bars, and secret meeting halls, and, ultimately, to the discovery of a terrorist plot that will shake the city to its core and bring them head-to-head not only with Cal’s past but with the IRA Army Council itself.
Serpents in the Cold
Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy
Post-war 1950s Boston is down on its luck. A year after the Brink’s Robbery—the largest robbery in the history of the United States—Boston is known more for its seedy underbelly than it is for its rich, historical past. The dazzle and glitz of its glorious vaudeville theatres are gone and infamous Scollay Square is being prepared for the wrecking ball. It’s the worst winter in recent memory, the Bruins are suffering another losing season, and Cal O’Brien and Dante Cooper are two men trying to find a serial killer and slowly losing themselves in the process.
The small fishing community of Folly Cove, situated on isolated Great Saucauset Peninsula on the northeast coast of New England, is a place outside of time and mostly ignored by the rest of the world. Founded as a separatist European settlement in 1608 it has always maintained its own culture and its own beliefs, a strange medieval form of Puritan Christianity shaped by mysticism and the settlers’ first encounters with the native Naumkeag and Pennacook. For over 400 years life here has been an idyll, of rich harvests and bountiful fishing. One might even call it blessed. Fishermen from the mainland, observing their neighbors’ fishing hauls, joke that the fishermen of Folly Cove must have sold their souls to the Devil. And they are not far wrong. In the long abandoned First Church on the peninsula’s main island there are artefacts left from the first congregation, ruined tapestries depicting scenes of damnation and of a grotesque pact their ancestors made with an ancient evil that exists directly below the island, a star-born Leviathan that on the eve of the town’s 400-year anniversary, will rise from the sea to consume them all.
Thomas O'Malley was raised in Wexford, Ireland. He is the author of This Magnificent Desolation, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, featured in New Writing from Ireland 2013, and shortlisted for the 2013 Irish Novel of the Year Award, and In the Province of Saints, which received critical acclaim from The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, among others. It was voted one of the ten best first novels by Booklist and chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top twenty-five books of the year in their Books to Remember. He is also the author of the noir, Serpents in the Cold, co-authored with Douglas Graham Purdy, which garnered praise from The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. It was a Boston Globe Special Feature and praised in Boston Magazine and on WBUR and NPR. Its sequel, We Were Kings (2016) was praised by the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly, received a starred review by Booklist and was one of Kirkus Reviews 10 best Novels for Summer Reading. He currently lives outside Boston and teaches creative writing at Dartmouth College.