Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Charlestown Connection by Tom MacDonald

Our unlikely hero is from the projects in Boston's Charlestown. He is a permanently sidelined All-American Boston College Football hero, due to a mangled knee, and a recovering alcoholic. He runs the food pantry for Saint Jude Thaddeus Church. A pretty low-key guy, Dermot Sparhawk is a survivor of his past.

His evening shift is shockingly interrupted by pounding on the door, then his godfather Jeepster stumbling across the room and into his arms. Jeepster is a Viet-Nam veteran and best friend of Dermot's father, also a Viet-Nam vet, both men were marines. Jeepster has spent most of the intervening years in prison. While trying to hold Jeepster up, he is told to "take it" meaning the key he held. Unable to carry on, he gasps "it opens..." then collapses, at which time Dermot sees a deeply imbedded knife in his back. With his last gasp, Jeepster breathes "Oswego" and dies. The only clue Dermot has is the word McSweeney on the key and Oswego, which means nothing to him. Author Tom MacDonald knows how to catch our interest.

As if this weren't enough, Dermot starts getting callers, mostly Irish, trying to find out what Dermot knows. In the meantime, Dermot is anxious to get to the bottom of who killed his godfather. What is going on? What do all these people want? How could Jeepster have anything of value anywhere? There is so much action in this book, so many threats, so few clues none of which make any sense. And what does the art world have to do with anything at all? Everyone seems to be owed big money, but from what? Throughout the journey the reader will venture into rough places and high class places looking for a sign, a clue, and what the words McSweeney and Oswego have in common.

A little-known concept of coding becomes a turning point, but not very easily. Not all people are who Dermot thinks they are, nor are they all after the same thing in the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed following Dermot through his journey of discovery, his integrity, and with the help of friends, how the code gets broken. Still there is a lot more to this and I encourage the reader to enjoy this fascinating trip to learn the full story. An exciting, action-packed mystery evolves over what happened in the food pantry.

This is a very interesting book, well-written and well-worth reading. I found myself captivated by what would happen next, who else may get killed, what will happen about the money owed, and the humour of the situation some of the characters find themselves in. Great job! I will be interested in reading other books by Tom MacDonald.

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