Tom McDonald’s The Charlestown Connection has a little Umberto Eco in it at times. In the book, a recovering alcoholic and former college football star (before a career-ending injury), Dermot Sparhawk, goes on a chase to clarify conspicuous circumstances surrounding his grandfather Jeepster Hennessey’s death.
The tale is set in the projects of Boston, where virtually every character, including Jeepster and Dermot, possesses varying degrees of shadiness. In fact, the resolution at the end, though not technically illegal, walks a fine line of legitimacy.
When the clue, “Oswego” surfaces, it leads Dermot on a circuitous and unlikely journey that eventually brings closure to Jeepster’s eventful life. In the process, suspected IRA members try to discourage Dermot from continuing on his quest; the FBI becomes involved, though this, too, is not what it seems; former inmates come into play both directly and indirectly; and the world of stolen art takes center stage in resolving the mystery.
The reader is occasionally thrown off course, by design and – as with most books of this genre – the chapters are short and the story moves along well. The reader is brought into the story easily, though after about two-thirds of the way through, the momentum wanes. The confluence of circumstances that finally come together and lead Dermot to the answer he seeks requires that the reader suspend belief to a large degree. But, this is a novel – the type of novel people read to be entertained, and it certainly has its entertaining moments.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. “…so entertaining you may want to read it twice.” Portland Book Review