A burnt-out writer is visited by the characters he is researching while writing a book about the mysterious assassination of US President James Garfield.
Richard Todd, an award-winning writer, is outwardly successful but inwardly plagued by uncertainties. Worst of all, he can’t seem to write any more. When a bright young editor, Jenny Lambe, arrives on his doorstep to work with him on his latest book, about the assassination of US president James Garfield, his life is sent spinning off in a new direction.
President Garfield was killed by Charles Guiteau, who was tried and hanged for the murder. But was he acting alone, in July 1881, or was there a more sinister force at work? Richard hears Guiteau’s voice in his head, and as his relationship with Jenny deepens, he is visited by other characters from the assassination drama – including Garfield himself, his Secretary of State James Blaine, Republican senator Roscoe Conkling, Conkling’s mistress Kate Chase Sprague, and the investigating police officer, Detective McElfresh. Are they helping Richard to solve the mystery surrounding Garfield’s murder – or pushing him further towards the edge?
A remarkable, disturbing portrait of a middle-aged man torn between his carefully constructed life and new adventures which may beckon, in the present and the past, from one of Ireland’s most exciting emerging authors, and based on original research into a little-known period in US history.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
An engaging medley of historical and literary fiction, this original story is a satisfying read. It begins with a once-successful author being confronted with his failings by a young historical researcher at the behest of his publisher. Richard is a little stereotypical, as is Jenny, but this is intentional, and the reasoning becomes clear as the story progresses.
The author explores contemporary issues in a thought-provoking way. The story’s historical aspect is refreshing and well-researched. The appearance of the salient characters in the story brings it to vibrant life. The twist is unexpected and completes this unique story perfectly.
Owen Dwyer is a prize-winning short-story writer who has won the Hennessy Emerging Fiction Prize, the Silver Quill (twice), the Smiling Politely Very Very Short Story competition, the South Tipperary County Council Short Story competition and the Biscuit Fiction Prize, and has had stories published in Whispers and Shouts magazine. His previous novel, Number Games, was published to glowing reviews by Liberties Press in 2019, and follows The Cherry-picker (2012) and The Agitator (2004). Owen lives in Dublin with his wife and their three children.