Archive for the ‘Dublin’ Tag

Time to Let Go   2 comments

Chestnut Street

Maeve Binchy died in 2012. Since then, two posthumously published works made their way to readers. And as much as I’d like to keep reading her poignant, if often overly-sentimental, stories, enough is enough. I previously reviewed A Week in Winter here. It was typical Binchy full of coincidences, lessons learned and colorful characters; it was fun to read. Unfortunately, I am less enthralled by Chestnut Street, a collection of unrelated vignettes – or chestnuts, if you will.

Like her more complete novels, Binchy’s characters reflect humor and insight into human failings and triumphs. The stories touch on lost loves, personal sacrifices and family relationships. However, the residents of this fictional neighborhood need further fleshing out. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

The title, Chestnut Street, is what ties everything together, but the strands are too loose. The collection reads as if someone simply went through and identified a place to insert the name of the fictional Dublin road. It doesn’t work. All the characters share an address, but no one has a connection to anyone else. The stories are short, more like sketches. Just because they bear a faint semblance to her style, doesn’t mean they’re book-worthy. What’s next, a compilation of her shopping lists or recipe file?

Binchy was prolific. My suggestion is to read the works she completed, and if you have already done. Start over. That will be far less disappointing than trudging along Chestnut Street.

Chestnut Street
Two-and-a-half Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014
368 pages


Reckoning With the Criminal Element   1 comment


There’s a difference between mysteries and crime novels, which is evident in Gene Kerrigan’s The Rage – and not just because the Crime Writer’s Association Award for the Best Crime Novel of the Year is advertised on the cover.

Kerrigan is a master storyteller whose characters, good and bad, aren’t black and white. The cops have a lot of gray areas, and the less-than-desirables do, too. Even, a nun falls somewhere in the middle, which has nothing to do with her habit.

Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey is part of the Dublin Garda (police), but not one of those strictly-by-the- rules kind of cops. He’s mostly driven by common sense, which tends to create some heartache for him and his superiors. At the other end of the law-and-order spectrum is Vincent Naylor, recently released from prison where he’d served time for a brutal assault, now in the midst of planning a major heist. Ironically, Tidey and Naylor never encounter one another, but their paths cross frequently –thanks to Maura Coady, a retired nun. Make no mistake, she’s no Saint.

Fraud, drugs, murder and misguided romance fill Kerrigan’s novel. Tidey is assigned to investigate a case that, ultimately, has only the thinnest a connection to Naylor. In fact, the robbery Naylor plans is gripping in its detail, but has nothing to do with Tidey; that is, until Maura Coady notices an unknown car parked on her quiet street. This is no mystery, but seeing the pieces of the story come together is captivating.

The Rage
Four Bookmarks
Europa Editions, 2012
313 pages