Weekend Reads: “The Devil’s Half Mile”

The Devil's Half MileThe Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Justy Flanagan has come “home” to New York from Ireland, with a newly-minted law degree and a determination to prove that his father’s death was no suicide. His uncle, known locally as The Bull, is deep in some underworld scheme, and Justy is sure that the matters are related.

This historical mystery, taking place in the late 18th Century as the earliest stock markets are being established, is peopled with complicated characters. It’s clear that Justy is dealing with what we now understand as PTSD, as he was one of the Irish defenders against the English and saw some horrific things in battle. His childhood friend, Kerry, a woman of mixed ethnicity, has changed in the four years he’s been gone … and, in some ways, not for the better. His greatest ally, Lars, is a ship’s captain who looks like a ruffian but has unplumbed depths. We even, briefly, see Alexander Hamilton and other historical figures grace the pages.

The book not only gives an outstanding historical perspective, but is also a bang-up fair play puzzle. All of the pieces are there for the reader to see, and yet the numerous “reveals” are satisfying. It’s a complicated tale, and one that will keep readers turning pages long into the night. Highly recommended.

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