From the opening scene, I could not put it down. Halpin is great with dialogue, interjecting backstory with taste, and adding his own wry sense of humor when appropriate. I stayed glued to his prose until the very last page.
I must confess, I also got a real kick out of reading all the landmarks in print, as I live and study in Scranton. I felt like I was sitting right next to Hank, Jake, Mike, and Ed while at Whistles, I felt like I could see those grey walls in the Mercy hospital waiting room, I was looking up Ash street, and I could see the pool table in that upper-level-thingy at Jack's. I'm sorry - the old Jack's.
As a whole, I was very impressed with his writing and ability to tell a story with a great balance of detail and introspection. The book is very tasteful and it flows with ease. I don't think there was ever a moment when I found myself bored while reading it.
In conclusion, the story seems to take place at least 15 years ago and Halpin has to be at least that much older then me. Sadly, or ironically (or both), I think about the current state of Scranton, and the same problems still exist: Heavy drinking and drug use, lack of employment, friends who can't cope so they try to kill themselves by consuming a whole bottle of pills, etc etc etc ... And I flip to the cover of his book and re-read the title "Welcome to Scranton" and don't know whether to laugh or to cry.
But besides that little rant, this book is excellent. Halpin has got real talent!