Qualified Immunity by Sylvie Fox

QUALIFIED
Qualified Immunity by Sylvie Fox
Publisher: Penner Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (176 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sheila Harrison Grant is the first African American woman ever nominated to the federal bench in Cleveland. But when her thirteen-year-old daughter Olivia shares a family secret with a well-meaning guidance counselor, she sets the wheels in motion to feed a partisan senate’s opposition, threatening her mother’s position…and both of their lives.

Once an ambitious young law student with promise, Casey Cort made the mistake of
crossing a classmate from a prominent and influential family. Now she works as an unfulfilled, faceless cog in a broken legal system.

When fate gives Casey a second chance, she has to set aside her lack of faith in justice and find the strength to fight for those with nowhere else to turn.

In this first novel of the Casey Cort series, Sylvie Fox—a former trial lawyer in Cleveland—weaves a tale that blends the best of today’s top legal thrillers with the heart and soul of women’s fiction, in a story ripped from real-world headlines.

Good intentions don’t guarantee anything.

People have reasons for even their most illogical decisions. One of the things I liked the most about this book was how explained the poor choices certain characters made. They were described in ways that illuminated why those decisions seemed like the right ones to the people involved without ever making excuses for anyone. It’s entirely possible to understand why someone did something and yet still hold them accountable for the harm they caused. Ms. Fox knows how to balance these things out just right.

There were quite a few people in this story, three of whom shared the spotlight as co-protagonists. While I enjoyed reading the backstories of everyone, including the history of almost every character did slow down the pacing of the plot. It also wasn’t necessary, especially for the supporting characters who were only part of the action some of the time. It made me wonder if I’ll be meeting some or all of them again in the sequels, although I was never sure if that is actually what the author is intending to do.

Social workers aren’t always written sympathetically, so I was glad to see how well they were treated in this tale. Their occupation is something that fascinates me for many reasons. It was nice to see it treated fairly even while acknowledging that no system or person is perfect. The nuances that were woven into these passages makes me curious to see where this series goes from here.

I also noticed a lot of switching among narrators. Moving between so many different points of view was distracting. No sooner could I adjust to one character’s way of describing the world around them then the narrative would move me into someone else’s mind. Virtually all of the character and plot development could have been accomplished with only one or two protagonists. It would have been much easier to enjoy what was happening without so many abrupt transitions.

Sheila’s character development was strong and rewarding. She is far from perfect, but her intelligence and resourcefulness made it easy for me to like her even when she acted unethically. There is something to be said for a well-rounded personality, and she most definitely has one of those!

Qualified Immunity has caught my attention. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys fiction about the legal system.

The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux

TUMBLE
The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (166 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark’s life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow. The Tumble Inn is a moving drama about home and about the fragility and resilience of love.

The Tumble Inn is a story that has me examining my own life and priorities. I loved both the characters of Mark and Fran. Mark’s the only narrator in this book but we get a well-rounded view of both him and Fran.

I think anyone reading this will relate to them. Stuck in a job they’re not entirely thrilled about and given the opportunity to do something completely different. Something they’re not really qualified to do but decide to go for it and never look back.

The author did a wonderful job describing the inn that Fran and Mark run and also the surrounding area. I felt like I was there. The secondary characters are wonderful too. You’re happy for this couple when their daughter Nat comes into their life. I did, however, wish the author would have added some more chapters about her and her growing up at the inn instead of using narration to chronicle the years between her being an infant to a troubled teenager.

There’s a sad spot in the book which I won’t give away. It’s a turning point for the characters and you’re drawn further into the story. I loved the ending which gives you that (as all good books should) feeling that you’re glad you took time to read it.

If you’re normally a genre reader don’t let the literary tag on this story put you off. It’s fast paced and Mr. Loizeaux has an easy to read writing style. I’d say add The Tumble Inn to your fall reading list. I know I’ll be looking for more of this author’s work.

Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men by Molly Harper

DEAD
Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men by Molly Harper
Publisher: PocketStar
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (380 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

With her best friend Zebs Titanic-themed wedding looming ahead, new vampire Jane Jameson struggles to develop her budding relationship with her enigmatic sire, Gabriel. It seems unfair that shes expected to master undead dating while dealing with a groom heading for a nuptial nervous breakdown, his hostile werewolf in-laws, and the ugliest bridesmaid dress in the history of marriage.

Meanwhile, the passing of Janes future step-grandpa puts Grandma Ruthie back on the market. Her new fiance;, Wilbur, has his own history of suspiciously dead spouses, and he may or may not have died ten years ago. Half-Moon Hollows own Black Widow has finally met her match.

Should Jane warn her grandmother of Wilburs marital habits or let things run their course? Will Jane always be an undead bridesmaid, never the undead bride?

New vampires probably shouldn’t be involved in anything Titanic-themed. Jane Jameson is back and she’s the matron of honor in her best friend’s wedding to his ladylove werewolf. Zeb and Jolene want a Titanic-themed wedding because…well why not? Jane is not overly excited about the wedding, losing her best friend’s undivided attention, her mysterious boyfriend’s recent odd behavior, and the consistent pressure from Zeb’s mother to stop the wedding so Jane can marry Zeb. You’d think all of it would be too much for a newbie vampire but Jane still finds time to look into her grandmother’s sixth fiancé. Although her plate is more than full with anything but food, Jane and her friends transverse the crazy town of Half Moon Hollows once more.

Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men is book two in the Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper. Although you technically don’t need to read book one to understand this one as the author does a really nice job of reminding new and returning readers of important details, I think readers should as it’s essential to understanding the cast dynamic and fully appreciating the characters themselves. In this new outing, Jane doesn’t really mature much unfortunately and I thought she came off slightly worse for the wear with her antics. The plot revolves around Jane’s best friend Zeb getting married; an event that Jane is ambivalent about at best since she’s struggling to come to terms with Zeb maturing and growing up while she isn’t. Additionally Zeb’s mother, Mama Ginger, is of course a caricature from hell bent on destroying the wedding in an attempt to make Zeb and Jane marry instead.

I found the story humorous and entertaining for the most part. The few issues I had were that Jane could have easily stopped the drama with Zeb’s mother by simply telling her that Jane was a vampire. Of course there would be no book with over the top wacky hijinks if logic actually prevailed so there is a reason for the lack of any common sense. Whether readers like that or not is a personal choice. Furthermore it was almost ridiculously easy to figure out what was going on, and who the bad guy was this time, and Jane started to look rather stupid in not figuring it out sooner. The book did everything but paint neon signs with the answers while Jane just shrugged and did nothing to add any intelligence nor intuitive thinking to any of the problems brought up. So I was much less enamored of Jane’s pratfalls, witty mumblings, and general air of buffoonery in combination with her less than average intelligence.

That said I still love the ensemble cast of characters and their ability to act as wonderful counterpoints to Jane’s sometimes irritating personality. I am not a huge Jane lover as she feels like a character pandering to a certain reading demographic. However the supporting cast is funny, entertaining, and generally helps soothe over any frustration. The writing is quick and easy to absorb without really remembering the details. It’s a little repetitive and formulaic to be sure but with the lack of real humor in the vampire genre I find this series much like ice cream. It’s not exactly something to be proud of binging on but it seems to taste so good at the time.

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

SMALL
Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (310 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

It’s always a plus when you’re reading a book and the story puts a smile on your face. That’s exactly what happened while I made my way through Small Blessings. Its plot sometimes had things conveniently falling into place for the characters but if you overlook that, it’s a fun read filled with feelings all of us deal with at one time or another.

What I enjoyed most about this book was its setting. A small college town inhabited by what appeared to be a cast of quirky characters. I had mixed feelings about the main character Tom. You almost have to forgive him for his past sin that has produced a surprise son because in the opening pages he seems to be a sweet guy who is caring for this very fragile woman, Marjory. I won’t give the plot away but I hoped we’d see more of her in the story.

Rose, the other lead character, is also flawed but it seems that Marjory has seen something within her that others haven’t and that’s the reason I hoped Marjory would be in the story more so I could see how their relationship progressed and if, as Tom suspected, it was a turning point for his wife.

Small Blessings has its humor too. Its pacing is not too fast and not too slow and the sort of story that’s perfect for settling down to an hour of reading here and there.

If you like stories with small town settings, lots of characters, and one that leaves you with a positive feeling that there’s a reason certain things happen to us, then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

The Retail by Joshua Danker-Dake

RETAIL
The Retail by Joshua Danker-Dake
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Length: Full Length (310 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Aspiring writer Penn Reynard has just joined the ranks of America’s fifteen million retail workers: fresh out of college with an English degree, he can’t find a job anywhere except at the local big-box hardware store. Working returns, Penn experiences firsthand the often comical absurdity, chaos, and shenanigans of the retail world. At least he has a new romance with a coworker going for him—if he doesn’t screw it up. The constant pressures of dealing with hostile customers, oblivious coworkers, and overbearing management begin to take their toll on him, though, and as his desired career path threatens to fall out of reach, Penn struggles to break free of retail’s clutches.

Few things are more disheartening than being stuck in a soul-shredding job.

The amount of time that was put into developing Penn’s personality made him one of the most memorable characters I’ve met so far this year. Penn’s flaws happen to be things that deeply irritate me, so I can’t honestly say that I always liked him. I can say that he made me think, though, and that he was written in such a way that I paused about a third of the way through his tale to see if it was actually a memoir. Penn comes across as a three-dimensional person, metaphorical warts and all. That isn’t something that’s at all easy to accomplish, and it’s whetted my appetite for more from Mr. Danker-Dake .

This book includes well over two dozen different characters, many of whom have nicknames that weren’t always easy to connect to their actual names. At times I mixed up the identities of certain employees and customers that made less frequent appearances because there was such a large number of them drifting in and out of the plot. It would have been really helpful to have a brief list of their names as well an indication of whether each character was an employee of the store or one of their regular customers.

Worldbuilding is definitely one of Mr. Danker-Dake’s strengths. Not only does he create incredibly complex settings for his characters, he allows Penn to slowly change in response to the things that happen to him. In some ways the setting almost functioned as its own character due to how much influence it had on Penn’s personal development. Watching this unfold was a treat, and it made me curious about what this author will come up with in the future.

I’d especially recommend The Retail to anyone who has ever worked in the service industry or who wonders what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the booth, till, or help desk.

The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash

TREE
The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash
Publisher: Red Feather Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (75 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Enter a world where spirits roam the earth in Michael Phillip Cash’s haunting new novella, The Hanging Tree. Set amid the eerie backdrop of Long Island, an area famously steeped in old legend, two young would-be lovers contemplate their future while visits from those who have come before them reveal the lure of fate…and the power of free will. At seventeen years old, Arielle’s relationship with her parents is slowly deteriorating. Angry and defiant, she is at a loss on how to cope with the tumultuous situation in which she finds herself. Arielle’s only comfort is Chad, an eighteen-year-old young man who seems to truly understand her struggles. Arielle and Chad meet beneath the low-hanging branches of what the local community has nick-named the “Hanging Tree”. An ancient and majestic landmark, it has long been rumored that the tree is haunted by ghosts. These ghosts span various centuries and vary wildly in age, but each one of them has one thing in common: their deaths are all somehow connected to the tree itself. As Arielle and Chad commiserate over their current situation and their precarious nature of their future, the spectral inhabitants of the Hanging Tree witness their conversation. One by one,the ghosts begin reminiscing about their own lives-and deaths- as they examine the inner demons with which their human forms long struggled. An eerie meditation on the oft-overlooked power of choice, Cash’s The Hanging Tree will stay with readers long after they turn out the light.

What happens when you test your boundaries under the infamous Hanging Tree?

Seventeen year old Arielle is rebelling against her father’s will. She is dating a boy her father doesn’t approve of. She decides, against his wishes, to go with the boy on a date under the infamous Hanging Tree. When things start to happen, will she make the right choice and get away or will her fate be tied to the tree?

Five spirits are tied to the tree. All of which have a historical connection to the spot because of their deaths. The characters are a witch and her granddaughter, a cat, two young male lovers and a woman called the Gibson girl who died after being brutally raped. Each story is brought to life by the author and we as readers get a glimpse into the past of Goody the witch and her granddaughter Claire and the horrors that led to their demise as Goody was put to death for witchery after her granddaughter commits suicide. As she died, Goody cursed her murderer and his family.

The two young lovers’ tale is equally tragic and we glimpse a time when it was nearly a death sentence to admit that you were gay and in love. The only ghost that really is never talked much about is the Gibson girl and the horrible rape that led to her death.

Arielle sits against the tree fending off the amorous boy whose attention she craved. Should she give in and allow him access to the body he wants or keep herself pure for someone worth having? Each of the ghosts in the tree interacts with her and the boyfriend, driving him away with spooky sounds and moving tree limbs.  When the ghost cat finds itself in a perilous situation, will Arielle make the right choice for her and for the cat? Some decisions we make linger long after the grave. Can Arielle save herself before she becomes another victim of the tree?

I really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. Page after page I had to know what happened to Goody and her granddaughter Claire. The two young lovers were also tragic and I loved their story just as much. Arielle is a girl like so many teenagers. Angry and trying to find her way, she considers giving away her body, one of the only things she has control of. As the night develops she learns to listen to the wind and hear the whispers between the branches.

Great story and I look forward to more spooky tales from Michael Phillip Cash.

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

PERFECTZ
Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (322 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .

The title of this book sums up how I felt after reading it, that is was ‘almost perfect’.

It’s an enjoyable read with a theme I think we can all relate to about striving for perfection to please others and not yourself, and realizing that it might be too late to live your dream.

I loved how all the characters interacted and were eventually changed by one another. There’s Bess and Benny each wanting something and then realizing it’s basically the same thing and finally coming together to make it a reality.

The author did a great job showing us how Bess was once like Benny’s mother. Benny wants nothing more than his mother’s attention and approval and Bess’ son David wanted the same thing but her dog breeding business came first. Can she right a wrong using Benny and will her and David’s relationship ever be healed?

Benny did at times have dialogue that seemed a bit beyond his years and was the only weakness in this story. All characters were well rounded and the setting so clearly described that I felt myself emerged in this small town setting.

And who doesn’t love a book with animals? For this one it’s poodles and a lovable dog name McCreery who I felt myself cheering for when Bess and Benny decide to let him compete at the Westminister Dog Show. I won’t give away what happens but the book has a great ending that puts a smile on your face.

One final thing I like about this book is the author is donating 100% of the profits from its sale to various charities serving children and animals so what better way to help them out and get an enjoyable read in the process.

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

ME
A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (516 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Letters from the only man she’s ever loved.

A keepsake of the father she never knew.

Or just a beautiful glass vase that catches the light, even on a grey day.

If you had the chance to make a fresh start, what would you keep from your old life? What would you give away?

Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a difficult few years she’d rather forget. But the belongings she’s treasured for so long just don’t seem to fit who she is now.

So Gina makes a resolution. She’ll keep just a hundred special items – the rest can go.

But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring . . .

A Hundred Pieces of Me is a book that you hope won’t ever come to an end because it’s a delight to read. However, when you do reach the final word you begin reflecting back on what you’ve just read.

It’s not only a wonderful story, but it forces you to reflect on your own life and what choices you’d make if you could only keep one hundred items.

Ms. Dillon pulls you into the story immediately and you connect with Gina as she begins her journey to rebuild her life. The author also does a wonderful job playing on all your emotions. I think there’s a little bit of Gina in all of us, and that’s what makes you read on.

The dialogue is very natural sounding and despite the book’s 500 plus pages, time flies by as you read more. In fact, you want to read just a little more at each setting to see what Gina selects as her hundred pieces and what background and story is connected with it.

What I also liked about this book was the backstory unfolded slowly and intermingled with each chapter about the hundred pieces. I felt it gave more insight into Gina’s character and why she was choosing a particular item.

One of the endorsements on the back of the book mentioned that it’s a book that you want to read one more chapter before you turn in for the night and that’s exactly what happened to me.  This is the first book I’ve read by Lucy Dillion, but it definitely won’t be the last.

With summer reading season ahead, I’d highly recommend you add this book to your list.

The Lost Flower by Geraldine Solon

Cover_The Lost Flower

The Lost Flower by Geraldine Solon
Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Length: Full (273 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 3 stars
Review by Rose

After third grade teacher, Lacy Stone undergoes a kidney transplant she develops vivid dreams of a toddler running away from a blazing fire. Lacy soon embarks in a journey to Boracay island, Philippines to find answers. On the island, Lacy meets Sampaguita Navarro, one of the last few Aetas of her tribe. As a manghihilot, Sam hopes to open her own holistic spa on the island, but as she acquires tragic visions, she discovers that her gift of touch comes with a price. Searching for clues, Lacy crosses paths and falls in love with investor, Adam Shaw not realizing that he’s the prime target of waitress, Frankie Lloyd who has acquired a new identity to seek revenge and claim her redemption. When Lacy and Sam provide a threat to Frankie’s plans, trouble looms paradise which leaves Lacy with a choice between saving the man she loves or the child from her dream.

This book has an interesting premise– after a kidney transplant, Lacy Stone begins having vivid dreams of a toddler in need of rescue. Because of clues in the dream she realizes it takes place on the island of Boracay in the Philippines and has a strong sense that she needs to go there.

Once there, she is introduced to other people on the island who, at first, seem to have little in common but it is soon evident that there is a thread that ties them all together–a thread we do not see clearly until the end of the book.

This book could have done with a bit of editing–it was not an ARC but there were several points where the editor fell down on his/her job (punctuation, duplication of a passage, etc., actions which seem inconsistent with transplant patients).  It was hard to connect with the majority of the characters– I think if the book had been longer the author would have been able to deepen the characters. As it is, we see a lot of what they do, but we don’t actually come to feel what they feel.

However, the story itself is compelling that this reviewer was able to get back into the story even with these issues. The mysteries as to why Frankie was hiding on the island, who the child was and what she had to do with Lacy, the connection between Sam and all the other characters is well done. I could see this as a movie–it had the feel of watching various scenes play out.

I would be interested in trying other books by this author.

The Lonely Impulse by Jim Cort

LONELY
The Lonely Impulse by Jim Cort
Publisher: Deaf Dog Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (116 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Years ago Danny Carmody and Willie Dowd,two childhood friends from the slums of Belfast, served in the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army. Dowd, slight and studious, gave himself without reservation to the cause and rose through the ranks by his dedication, intelligence, and talent for making bombs. Carmody, a big lad and far from intellectual, joined the Provos not from any political conviction, but out of loyalty to Dowd, following a pattern he had held to all his life.

Together they had planted bombs, staged ambushes and robbed banks in the name of the cause, each risking his life to save the other. But when Dowd forced Danny into a shameful act, Danny felt he had been betrayed. He quit the Provos and fled to America, nursing a bitter hatred of Dowd for what he saw as the wasting of his life. Burned out and plagued by guilt for the destruction and deaths he had caused, Danny drifts along the Eastern seaboard, winding up an unofficial bouncer in a black bar in Newark, New Jersey. He has changed his name to Milo Costigan.

In the meantime, Dowd pursued his IRA career, wounded by his friend’s desertion, but never once questioning the cause or his place in it. When a cease-fire begins, Dowd finds himself a man without a function. His uncompromising dedication and fanatic hatred of the British are no longer wanted. At the urging of a friend, he comes to America. His friend Terry has discovered some shady dealings at the plant where he works. Terry has a plan for hijacking evidence of the plant’s criminal activities, and demanding a million dollars ransom.

The plan goes through and they send a ransom demand to the head of the conglomerate that owns the plant, a ruthless and calculating billionaire named Jason Ackerdyne. Ackerdyne wants the situation dealt with and Dowd eliminated without involving the police. He gives the problem to his chief of security Julia Malcom. Malcom, a devious and fiercely ambitious woman, finds Milo Costigan, (the former Danny Carmody), and uses Costigan’s hatred of Dowd to manipulate him into taking the job, without, however, telling him the whole story.

The Lonely Impulse is a novel of a little under 70,000 words that tells what happens as Dowd tries to get his ransom, and Milo Costigan tries to hunt him down.

They say you can never go home again. If this is true, why does your past always seem to be dogging your heels? Milo Costigan is no doubt asking himself that very question the day Julia Malcom hunts him down in a seedy bar. With the mention of a name he’d long stopped thinking about, it all comes back in a violent rush and pours over into his future. What’s a guy to do but put it back where it belongs?

Milo Costigan is a confounding character. He’s not a nice guy. Not by any means. As an ex-IRA member, he’s no stranger to doing bad things. Yet, on the other hand, you develop a sympathy for him despite the fact he seems almost irredeemable. I found that to be both refreshing and a bit perplexing.

Willie Dowd is a ghost from Milo’s past, one he’d just as soon forget. Willie is even less redeemable than Costigan, if that’s possible. You get the feeling that he never gave up his past and has simply been hiding out, biding his time since his days in Ireland.

There were things I didn’t care for about The Lonely Impulse. At times there seemed to be almost too much going on for me to keep up with and just enough characters to confuse me. On the other hand, there was a lot that I did enjoy. As I mentioned, I really liked (as well as hated) the main character, Costigan. I also appreciated the flashbacks to his days in Ireland as a member of the IRA. It’s a portion of history that I don’t know much about but have always been interested in.

In spite of a few things that left me feeling confused and lost at times, The Lonely Impulse is a fast paced, exciting novel that will give you insight into the history of Ireland’s turbulent times. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a thrilling adventure coupled with an Irish brogue.