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Black Irish: A Novel Hardcover – February 26, 2013

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Black Irish: A Novel + Rage Against the Dying: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345538064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345538062
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Detective Absalom Kearny of the Buffalo (NY) PD is caring for her aged, adoptive father, John, a legendary, former detective himself. Smart and driven, Abbie is seen by fellow cops as a rising star. But she may be too driven, and the savage torture-murder of Jimmy Ryan, a resident of the city’s clannish Irish enclave, “the County,” drives her toward obsession. More grisly murders occur, and even though Abbie grew up in the County, no one will talk with her, even though many know what is happening; the County avenges its own. Talty, author of several lauded nonfiction books (Agent Garbo, 2012), has produced a suspenseful debut novel with a circuitous plot. Abbie is a wonderfully complex and conflicted character, but it is the County—which may exist in Buffalo and certainly exists in other northeastern cities—that shines brightest. It’s a place where a boy whose people came from Mayo isn’t allowed to date a Kilkenny girl, and its residents share an “ancestral memory of being oppressed in a country they’d never been to.” Economically ravaged Buffalo is portrayed in broader brushstrokes, but the sense of place is palpably evocative. Black Irish is simply a riveting read. --Thomas Gaughan


“Abbie Kearney is one of the most intriguing new suspense protagonists in memory, and Black Irish marks the captivating start of a brilliant thriller series.”—Tess Gerritsen
“Luxuriantly cinematic . . . a compulsively readable crime thriller . . . Move over V. I. Warshawski; Buffalo gets its own crime novel heroine.”The Buffalo News
“A suspenseful debut novel with a circuitous plot . . . Black Irish is simply a riveting read.”Booklist (starred review)
“Talty shows his chops when recounting [Buffalo’s] Irish roots.”Kirkus Reviews
“Talty does a fine job portraying the cohesiveness of the Irish, their loyalty to one another, and their obsession with their history. . . . A memorable story of betrayal and vengeance.”Publishers Weekly

More About the Author

Stephan Talty is the NY Times bestselling author of six acclaimed nonfiction books, as well as two crime novels, "Black Irish" and "Hangman," set in his hometown of Buffalo. He's written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Playboy, the Chicago Review and many others. Talty's ebook, "The Secret Agent," was a #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in nonfiction.

Talty lives outside New York City with his wife and two children. You can visit his website at

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Customer Reviews

This was a well written and fast paced story.
A. Walker
Then it fell to pieces with too many twists and turns that were preposterous and the ending totally unbelievable.
book lover
Great believable characters and a very interesting plot line.
Annie Michelle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Ethan on March 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The sanctity of a local Buffalo, NY church is forever compromised when the maimed corpse of Jimmy Ryan is discovered in the basement. Tied to a chair, eyelids cut off as if he were made to look at something, the sight of Ryan's body sends a shock through the town. Author Stephan Talty describes the southern part of Buffalo, the County, as having a "small-town feeling". Its best days behind it, the County is a place where news travels fast and nothing stays secret for long.

Enter Absolam "Abbie" Kearny. Despite growing up in the County, she has always been a kind of outsider. Adopted at a young age by John Kearny, a local police legend, she has now returned to follow in her father's infamous footsteps. Tasked with the Ryan case, she is quickly met with resistance from the local townspeople and police.

The County is mostly made up of Irish immigrants. As Abbie digs deeper into the murder, connections, both historical and personal, begin to reveal themselves. As further murders occur, Abbie struggles to stay ahead of the killer. The Buffalo police run an investigation parallel to hers, and Abbie soon finds herself a suspect in the case. As the tension rises Abbie is forced to question her sanity and family history, all culminating in a shocking twist that is sure to leave readers riveted.

With his debut work of fiction, Stephan Talty instantly places himself among the great modern thriller authors such as Dennis Lehane and Tana French. Like Lehane and French, Talty manages to maintain exceptional characters, setting and suspense without ever sacrificing the integrity of his writing. This novel could have easily become a standard thriller, but Talty daftly takes his time to build each character, allowing the suspense to stay at a constant boil.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a hopeless fool for fiction and the genre matters not as long as the prose sings to me.

I was drawn to BLACK IRISH, the debut novel of non-fiction author Stephan Talty, not for its genre but because the cover blurb compares Talty with critically acclaimed author of the literary thriller, Tana French, a writer much loved and respected by me. Unfortunately I saw immediately that I was deceived by such a promising comparison.

BLACK IRISH is a gruesome psychological police procedural which should be pegged strictly as a crime thriller and not a literary thriller. For those readers hoping to find literature in BLACK IRISH, they will only be disappointed. But for those readers who love thrillers and don't care about the literary merits of style and nuance, then this dark and rather formulaic novel is for them.

BLACK IRISH is not really a bad story; it is just the storytelling that is weak. A lot of the book I considered enthralling, even compelling, but the narrative is uneven and clumsy. I really liked the idea of a Rust Belt crime story being placed in South Buffalo and married to authentic Irish American history and in that regard the book is quite believable. Yet the narrative's blunt edginess is rusted over and dull, lacking any true literary glimmer. I'm sure that Talty did plenty of research to support his use of the Irish Republican Army, the Gaelic Club and the Clan na Gael in his plotting. Talty is competent if unpolished in his prose and the historical facts he bases his story upon are solid and strong. But unfortunately he ultimately grinds down all plausibility - with this reader anyway - by the vulgar excesses in his action scenes and the over the top perfection of his main character.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's not often that you come across a crime thriller that doesn't have some kind of formula basis (flawed protagonist, police corruption, etc)., but Stephen Talty's "Black Irish" struck me as one of the exceptions. This first novel from Talty (he is a bestselling non-fiction writer) is original, intelligent and smacks of real people and a real place (Buffalo). The language and writing style are clean and clear and the plot and characters are dynamic and credible. It is one of those rare books that you don't want to put down, even for food, drink or the bathroom.

The novel's protagonist is a South Buffalo detective--an anomaly in that city in that she's a woman on a force that is the poster group for traditional Irish cops. The story opens with a really, really chilling murder that will be followed by several others. The killer has a very personal agenda that appears to target members of an IRA-affiliated social group who are harboring a nasty secret. Her own father is somehow connected to the group and is therefore a potential murder victim. The plot takes some very satisfying twists and turns and concludes (several times) in ways that the reader just doesn't see coming.

Author Talty has drawn wonderful, meaty characters and given them smart, credible dialogue. He evokes the town and and its economic and climatic conditions equally skillfully. The book's pacing is snappy and often close to breathtaking as the number and ferocity of the murders increases. You couldn't ask for better in the crime genre and I'm willing to bet that the book and author will be up for some kind of award in the coming year. Highly recommended.
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