Summary and book reviews of Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime by John Dunning

Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime

A Novel

by John Dunning

Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 480 pages

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Book Summary

Dunning calls upon his vast knowledge of radio and his incisive reading of history to create a poignant, page-turning novel that sheds new insights on some of the most harrowing events of the twentieth century.

Widely acclaimed for his groundbreaking crime novels Booked to Die and The Bookman's Wake, award-winning author John Dunning triumphantly returns with a riveting new thriller that takes us back to the summer of 1942, when radio was in its prime, when daylight saving time gave way to "wartime," when stations like WHAR on the New Jersey coast struggled to create programming that entertained and inspired a nation in its dark hour.

Into this intense community of radio artists and technicians in Regina Beach, New Jersey, come Jack Dulaney and Holly Carnahan. They are determined to find Holly's missing father, whose last desperate word came from this noisy seaside town. Holly sings like an angel and has what it takes to become a star. Jack -- a racetrack hot-walker and novelist who's hit every kind of trouble in his travels from sea to sea -- tries out as a writer at WHAR and soon discovers a passion for radio and a natural talent for script writing.

While absorbing the ways of radio, from writing to directing, he meets some extraordinarily brave and gifted people who touch his life in ways he could not have imagined -- actresses Rue, Pauline, and Hazel; actor-director Waldo, creator of the magnificent black show Freedom Road; and enigmatic station owner Loren Harford, among others.

Jack's zeal for radio is exceeded only by his devotion to Holly, who needs his help but who is terrified for his safety. Strange things are happening in Regina Beach, starting with an English actor who walked out of the station six years ago and was never seen again. And Holly's father is gone too, in equally puzzling circumstances. As Jack and Holly penetrate deeper into the shadows of the past, they learn that someone will do anything, including murder, to hide some devastating truths.

In a stunning novel that transcends genre, John Dunning calls upon his vast knowledge of radio and his incisive reading of history to create a poignant, page-turning work of fiction that sheds new insights on some of the most harrowing events of the twentieth century. Like E. L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate or Caleb Carr's The Alienist, Dunning's brilliant tale of mystery, murder, and revenge brings to life another time, another place, another world.

Chapter 1

Dulaney dreamed there was no war. A thousand years had passed and he had come to the end of an endless journey, closing an infinite circle in time and space. But when he opened his eyes it was still Sunday, May 3, 1942.

He had slept less than two hours. The sky outside his window had just gone dark but the moon was up, shrinking his world to a small silver square on the floor, this eight-by-ten room with bars. His eyes probed the shadows beyond his cell -- the dark hallway, the line of light on the far side of the bullpen where the office was. He had come awake thinking of Holly.

His peace had been shaken. The steadiness born in his soul now drained away, leaving a growing sense of unease. He heard the radio droning in the outer office. Charlie McCarthy had given way to Walter Winchell with no loss of comedy, but even when the jailer laughed at something Winchell had said, even with the sound of another human voice in close proximity, Dulaney felt isolated, alone ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Library Journal

Unfortunately, although the appealing Dulaney will hold the interest of many readers, the descriptive style leans toward tedium and the resolution leaves many loose ends.

Publishers Weekly

Dunning's obvious love for radio as a medium of artistic expression and his knowledge of its history go a long way toward redeeming an occasionally heavy-handed narrative that takes a turn for melodrama several times too often.

Kirkus Reviews

As moody and meandering as a Hemingway epic (Dulaney gets part of his alias from bell-toller Robert Jordan), Dunning's magnum opus celebrates the forgotten genius of radio, and the winsome heroics of ordinary people caught up in the passion of the great war.

Linda Fairstein, author of Cold Hit

John Dunning, one of the master storytellers of our time, has written a hauntingly evocative tale of suspense. Set during World War II, Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime transports the reader. The mystery, the romance, the music, the voices of that era's radio, echo in memory long after the last page is turned.

Author Blurb Clive Cussler: author of Atlantis Found
John Dunning has to be one of the finest writers in America. As always, he has put together a winning mix of intrigue, romance, conspiracy, and shrewd villains. Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime is brilliantly conceived from start to finish. John delivers, and no reader could ask for more.

Author Blurb Janet Evanovich: author of Hot Six
What a great book -- full of suspense, romance, and mesmerizing old-time radio lore. And that wonderful 1942 station, WHAR, is in my favorite state, New Jersey! If you haven't yet discovered John Dunning, you have a treat in store.

Author Blurb Nevada Barr: author of Deep South
John Dunning never, ever disappoints. Two O'Clock, Eastern Wartime has as many layers as history itself. This is a terrific book.

Reader Reviews

Bill Muhr

I am an avid OTR fan and Dunning's knowledge of that medium is well evident in this book. His depth of knowledge shows in the depiction of the procedures necessary in putting together a radio program. I loved the book and REALLY hope for a sequel.

Alistair Laignel

A truly great piece of work.

Sequel?????

Frank Phillips

I thoroughly enjoyed Dunning's book on three fronts.
I am an avid fan of old time radio. I use Dunning's old time radio encyclopedia book regularly when I want to learn something about an OTR show or just browse it to pass the time.
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