Canadian author Anne Emery (Postmark Berlin) continues her in-depth look at Ireland with Fenian Street, the 12th novel in the Collins-Burke mystery series, which tells an engrossing story about a young man's ambition and seemingly unattainable goals.
Shay Rynne has wanted to join the Garda Síochána, the Irish police, since childhood, but that aspiration seems impossible in the early 1970s. Unlike the other officers, he grew up poor, in public housing--the Corporation flats on Dublin's Fenian Street--and in a family that sometimes skirted the law and distrusted the police. Shay is even more determined to join the police after his friend Rosaleen McGinn dies in a fall down the back staircase at the hotel where she worked. Although Rosaleen's death is ruled accidental, Shay believes she was murdered and vows to find her killer. Shay joins the Garda with the help of compassionate Detective Sergeant Colm Griffith, who also is his godfather. The transition is not smooth: other officers make fun of his background. Shay also makes an enemy of the detective who originally handled the investigation into Rosaleen's death and who resents his intrusion. Although Shay sees firsthand police corruption and brutality, he isn't deterred.
Emery delves deeply into the motives and personality of Shay, who is determined to be "a conscientious policeman who would never cause harm to innocent people." Fans will be delighted to see the return of such characters as Father Brennan Burke from earlier books in the series, and she adds depth to Fenian Street by depicting the politics of the era, giving a full sense of the Irish community. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer