Fans of Roddy Doyle's Henry Smart won't want to miss The Dead Republic (Viking, May), the trilogy's terrific conclusion. Like Forrest Gump with bite, Doyle uses Henry to revisit Ireland's tumultuous recent past. In the first book, A Star Called Henry, we saw the 1916 Easter uprising through Henry's eyes. In Oh, Play That Thing, Henry flees the Irish Republican Army to New York, where he tumbles into the burgeoning jazz scene and meets Louis Armstrong, among others. The Dead Republic picks up with Henry working with legendary Hollywood director John Ford on the film of his life—The Quiet Man. Through various tribulations over several years, he ends up a national hero, which causes his violent past to return. Doyle may well have topped himself with this spellbinding novel—sometimes hilarious, other times heartbreaking, and always engrossing. An essential book for fans of Doyle, Irish politics, and history, and just plain great storytelling.
Volume 257 Issue 16 04/19/2010