cover image Hours of Gladness: A Novel of the Irish in America

Hours of Gladness: A Novel of the Irish in America

Thomas Fleming. Forge, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86781-2

The Irish struggle for independence moves onto American soil in Fleming's (The Wages of Fame) latest novel, which posits the existence of an IRA cell that crosses the Atlantic to infiltrate Paradise Beach, a sleepy Jersey Shore town, in the mid 1980s. From their temporary terrorist headquarters, Dick O'Gorman and Billy Kilroy plan to smuggle in missiles from Cuba to use against the Brits. Beleaguered patrolman Mick O'Day tries to keep order in the small town, but the IRA subterfuge quickly throws the community into turmoil, testing the loyalties of the Irish-Americans who have lived there for years, and angering the Mafia segment that becomes involved in the arms transaction. Chaos is unleashed when the million dollars allocated for the weapon is stolen, with the mistrust between the various factions spurred on by a British spy posing as an Irish priest. O'Day's attempts to keep the situation under control are hindered by his relationship with a Vietnamese refugee living in Paradise Beach, a woman who was his lover during the Vietnam War and whose betrayal resulted in the deaths of many of O'Day's Marine comrades. The search for the stolen money drives the plot, and there's some effective writing here, but Fleming can't seem to decide whether he wants his book to be a political thriller, the story of an emotionally damaged Irish cop or the tale of a small seaside community being torn apart by change. (Nov.)