How it’s New York: A New York author in a New York apartment with a book that revels in descriptions of the New York of yesterday
How it’s Irish: It’s the “Fintan Dunne” trilogy!
Peter Quinn was the guest of honor at a delightful literary evening at the home of Joe and Mary Lou Quinlan in Greenwich Village on Monday October 6th. The occasion was the launch of the paperback edition of “Dry Bones”, the last book in the Fintan Dunne trilogy. Much as Quinn jokingly encouraged us all to throw away our hardback editions and help him emulate the sales of his fellow Manhattan College alumni James Patterson, this was very much a soft sell – in truth a convivial gathering of the New York Irish artistic world ( academics, historians, musicians and assorted literati ) and longstanding friends, ranging from college buddies to colleagues in the business world.
As I read “Dry Bones” I began to understand how this broad community was reflected in some of the strands weaving their way through the book.
At first sight the Fintan Dunne trilogy is a change of genre from the successfully ambitious historical novel Banished Children of Eve. But there are similarities. Although “Dry Bones” is built around a driving hard-boiled thriller plot, with Fintan Dunne the epitome of a “man’s man”, you soon find yourself drawn into an equally gripping web of historical detail and intrigue. While we might kid ourselves we would pick up a non-fiction book on the end game of World War II (and then go on to read it), we know that a last minute sense that this was too much like a job , or worse homework, would prevent us from picking it off the shelf. Quinn eases us into the story with the easy human voice in his characters, fills in the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and nudges us back to the bookstore.
The transition from the tail-end of World War II to the cold war espionage is intuitive. A flash forward to the corporate communications world of the New York of the 1950s at first seems awkward and less interesting of a story, but again we observe as a “fly on the wall” at the birth of post war public relations industry, and discover that truth can be a casualty of business equally as well as war.
Quinn is not satisfied with the convincing thriller denouement – even the Addenda shows his guile and wit as he assembles “documentation” that plays with our sense of the truth, moving from articles that alternately verify what we have learnt, deny it in cover-up stories and then make a cheeky self-reference as the private dick’s secretary character declares her intent to write a series of detective novels about Fintan Dunne.
While “Dry Bones” is the last in the Fintan Dunne trilogy, following “The Year of the Cat” and “The Man Who Never Returned”, that in no way affects its success as a standalone read. This is partly due to the cinematic techniques it employs, and it was no surprise when it was announced by Carol Iovanna of Illuminati Productions on the night that plans were well under way for film adaptation, with Michael Fassbender’s name touted as the leading man.