Summary and book reviews of The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes

The Convictions of John Delahunt

by Andrew Hughes

The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes X
The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2015, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2016, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Book Summary

Based on true events that convulsed Victorian Ireland, The Convictions of John Delahunt is the tragic tale of a man who betrays his family, his friends, his society and, ultimately, himself.

Dublin, 1841. On a cold December morning, a small boy is enticed away from his mother and his throat savagely cut. This could be just one more small, sad death in a city riven by poverty, inequality and political unrest, but this murder causes a public outcry. For it appears the culprit - a feckless student named John Delahunt - is also an informant in the pay of the authorities at Dublin Castle. And strangely, this young man seems neither to regret what he did, nor fear his punishment. Indeed, as he awaits the hangman in his cell in Kilmainham Gaol, John Delahunt decides to tell his story in this, his final, deeply unsettling statement...

Based on true events that convulsed Victorian Ireland, The Convictions of John Delahunt is the tragic tale of a man who betrays his family, his friends, his society and, ultimately, himself. Set amidst Dublin's taverns, tenements, courtrooms, and alleyways and with a rich, Dickensian cast of characters, this enthralling, at times darkly humorous novel brilliantly evokes a time and a place, and introduces a remarkable new literary voice.

Excerpt
The Convictions Of John Delahunt

I won't be welcome in the Delahunt plot. I doubt they'll make the slightest effort to reclaim me. Perhaps I'm promised to the dissectionists on York Street, though these days they've the pick of the workhouses. Most likely I'll end up in some forsaken corner of Kilmainham's grounds. Pitched in with my peers. Lying at odd angles and uneven depths, depending on the diligence of the digger. Quicklime poured in to hasten the process. And unmarked, save a scrawled entry in a spineless ledger, to be shelved and forgotten, filthy with dust. The fate of my remains had not given me a moment's pause until today's visitor. Now I can think of little else. It's tiresome, that such morbid fancies should master me in my remaining hours.

Helen might make some petition for a decent burial. My wife has been disowned, disinherited; she is soon to be widowed. Her plaintive letters will be mired in bureaucracy. Still, it ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Readers are advised to keep in mind that the murders are fewer than one would expect and far between, with plenty of information about a common man's environment and experiences making up the majority of the narrative. Regardless, The Confessions of John Delahunt is top-notch historical fiction, and those interested in reading about life in 19th-century Dublin can't go wrong with this novel. Its detailed descriptions and unforgettable narrator make this a must-read for those who enjoy the genre.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A Kafkaesque study of an amoral weakling consumed by an unrestrained bureaucracy.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This beautifully written tale of cruelty and redemption is as unforgettable as it is harrowing.

Irish Mail on Sunday
Extraordinarily detailed world, impeccably researched. So superbly written that it soars as a masterly work of fiction. Utterly compelling.

Author Blurb C. J. Sansom, author of Dissolution and Winter in Madrid
A quite exceptional novel. The world he creates has echoes of Kafka and Orwell. Totally convincing. It draws you in like a trap.

Author Blurb Charles Palliser, author of The Quincunx
Unputdownable. Chillingly portrayed. A highly sophisticated first novel.

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Beyond the Book

A Murderer's Point of View

The Convictions of John Delahunt is narrated by a murderer. The technique of using a first-person account to bring readers into the world of the killer can certainly be effective. Here are some of the better-known novels written from the viewpoint of a murderer.

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    Hyde Levine flips the plot of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so that it's narrated from the point of view of Hyde, the side of Doctor Jekyll responsible for the crimes he commits. The author concentrates on making Hyde human, and leads his audience to sympathize with a character many of us grew up thinking of as a monster.



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