Romance, Kidnapping, and Murder…
Will a young Irish lawyer unravel the secrets or die trying?
Conor Dolan, a young Irishman, travels to Chicago in 1903 to visit his older brother; instead, he finds a mystery. His journey sparks a quest to peel away secrets and rediscover a dead sibling he idolized but never really knew as he strives to learn the true meaning of brotherhood.
His search reveals an Irish Republican plot to assassinate a visiting British royal. In the process, he is drawn into an alliance with two women: a mesmerizing Jewish widow and a struggling young Irishwoman. Each teaches Conor existential truths of life and love in her own way.
But the brother he finds may not be the brother he remembers. A Long Way from Clare is a story of Chicago’s early twentieth century immigrants and one man’s struggle with both bigotry and justice in an unforgiving city where no good deed goes unpunished.
Will Conor find the answers he desperately craves? Or will this trip punch a one-way ticket?
In Smith’s historical novel, a young Irish immigrant encounters unexpected intrigue in the United States.
Conor Dolan and his older brother, Kevin, contemplate the peaceful Irish countryside of County Clare and the distant lovely sight of Galway Bay in 1886, idly thinking about faraway America. The narrative jumps forward to 1903 and a future neither boy could have imagined: Conor, now a lawyer, is visiting Chicago for the first time, intent on paying a visit to his brother, who’s become a policeman. The wild lawlessness of Chicago confronts Conor at every turn (a greetings official advises him to buy a gun): “Prostitutes, procurers, and hustlers assaulted Conor at every step with promises of carnal pleasure or riches,” the author writes, adding with a twinkle, “and it was still morning.” Conor suffers a rude shock: He learns that his brother is dead—by his own hand, according to the local police. Conor can’t believe this and sets out to investigate just what his brother was doing in the New World during the years they were separated. His investigation is aided by an unexpected ally: his new neighbor (and romantic interest) Rebecca Fletcher, a Jewish woman who informs Conor that Scotland Yard had been investigating his brother’s connections with the Clan na Gael, a Chicago branch of Irish Republicans planning to assassinate the visiting Prince of Wales. Smith does a remarkably economical job of sketching out all of the plot’s complications; there’s scarcely an ounce of fat anywhere in this tale. The author occasionally overdoes the stereotypical Irish dialect (“Ahhh, come on now, Conor,” Kevin prodded. “Sure there’s nothin’ t’cry about. ’Tis only the constable come to collect the rent”), but the sheer tension of his story is irresistible.
A lean and compelling mystery set in the rough-and-tumble Chicago of the early 20th century.
– Kirkus Reviews
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