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Fenian Street by Anne Emery

Reviewed by Jim Napier

Over the past two decades, Canadian Anne Emery has cemented her reputation as one of the strongest and most original crime writers at work today. Her Collins-Burke mystery series chronicles the exploits of lawyer Monty Collins and Father Brennan Burke as they set about solving crimes both in Canada and in Northern Ireland. A lawyer herself, Emery’s research is impeccable, as is her ear for Irish dialogue, and the result is a series of novels that both captivate and inform her many readers on both sides of the water. In her most recent tale, Emery introduces a new character to her readers, a young man with ambitions to make a career in the Garda Siochána, or Irish police, and who finds that in the tightly woven circle of family and friends that defines Irish society, one’s personal and professional lives are not easily separated.

In Belfast during the turbulent years between 1969 and 1975, we meet Shay Rynne, the son of Thomas “Talkie” Rynne, a former IRA supporter who’d been interned during the Emergency, known elsewhere as the Second World War. His son Shay, born shortly after the war and now a young man, has come under the wing of Colm Griffith, a DS in the Garda Siochána. With his support, Shay joins the Garda as a PC.

In his neighbourhood, being a cop is seen as only one step above being an informer, and Shay works hard to earn his friends’ respect. So when Rosie McGinn, a young woman he knew from his school days, is found dead at the hotel where she worked, Shay resolves to bring her killer to justice, even though it means going up against some intimidating local figures.

On the strength of his success, Shay is promoted to detective and joins DS Griffith in tackling the case of a prominent local man who is found dead in his backyard following a house party there the night before. Shay’s investigation will plumb the depths of the local power structure, complicated not least by the fact that his own father emerges as a prime suspect in the man’s death.

Drawing on her many talents as a gifted storyteller, Anne Emery’s words leap off the page and draw the reader into life in Belfast, with engaging characters set against a troubled past. Fenian Street is a fine addition to an already-strong series.

Fenian Street is published by ECW Press.


In addition to being a reviewer with over six hundred reviews to his credit, Jim Napier is the acclaimed author of Legacy and Ridley’s War, in the British-based Colin McDermott mystery series.


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