A look at books: Ireland’s growing cadre of first rate thrillers and personal essays of home

The Last Girl
By Jane Casey

Ireland's growing cadre of first rate thriller writers is already a thing to marvel at, and Jane Casey is emerging as one of its most accomplished members. In 'The Last Girl' her nervy young detective Maeve Kerrigan sets out on her third (about to be bestselling) case, and this time it’s a murder at a well to do home.
The house happens to belong to defense attorney Phillip Kennford, a man who isn’t particularly beloved by the police for his tendency to get convicted criminals off the hook.

Casey excels at creating plot complications when you least expect them, and her characters continually throw up hooks and snares that you can’t see coming. She’s a born thriller writer.

Money can buy you a mansion with a pool and a wardrobe to stock a Paris fashion show 'The Last Girl' demonstrates, but it can’t buy you love or second chances, which are what Casey’s characters are often in search of. It turns out that money can’t protect Kennford’s wife and daughter from the killer that stalks them in their own home either.

In 'The Last Girl' Casey, who works as an editor and is married to a criminal barrister, once again demonstrates her talent at crafting a compelling tale and brings insider insights into the business of crime and punishment.

Minotaur, $24.99

The Devil In Her Way
By Bill Loehfelm

Maureen Coughlin, the 29-year-old Irish American cocktail waitress who was the star of the bestselling The Devil She Knows, has moved from Staten Island to New Orleans where she is fresh out of the police academy. But the post-Katrina city is still devastated by the hurricane, and this adds immeasurably to the threatening atmosphere of this increasingly tense thriller.

Writer Bill Loehfelm excels at crafting gritty characters and the mean streets they move in, and fans of his previous effort will be delighted to see his tough as nails Irish heroine come into her own in this twisty, well drawn and delightfully complicated yarn.

This is the New Orleans that the tourists never get to see, seen through the eyes of a woman who has waited tables for years (which places her in the company of saints already, frankly).

Coughlin’s authentically realized Irish background and the familiar ideas she was raised with add atmosphere and authenticity to this increasingly tense tale.

Crichton, $26

Extended Family
Edited by James Silas Rogers
The New Hibernia Review, an important academic journal of Irish studies produced by the Center for Irish Studies at the University of Saint Thomas, has traditionally opened each new issue with a personal essay.

Many of these works are luminous meditations on Irish life, heritage and experience, presented in plainly argued language which is always a relief to the casual reader.

Now for the first time the essays have been collected in a selection that represents the best submissions, and it turns out they’ll be of interest to anyone who cares about Ireland, its history and its people.

Irish America has many subsections, containing orthodox, reformed and progressive wings. That this is finally coming to light is a testament to the role that Irish studies is playing in American life, rescuing us all from clichés and stereotypes and uncovering the richly layered reality of our lives here.

'Extended Family' succeeds as well as it does by offering personal as well as political readings of contemporary Irish American experience. It makes times to make connections and it carves out space for poetry too, which connects us in deeper ways to our points of origin.

Most of all it highlights the enduring importance of story, the tales we tell ourselves and the tales we tell about ourselves.

Dufour, $18.95

Graveland
By Alan Glynn

Irish thriller writers who can rope in world famous actors like Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper to star in the film version of their bestselling thrillers are becoming a dime a dozen.

The Irish gift of storytelling is in no danger at all, apparently. Alan Glynn’s last bestselling thriller 'The Dark Fields' was turned into the hit Limitless, starring the aforementioned actors and making a name for the accomplished writer.

In Glynn’s hotly anticipated latest, 'Graveland,' a Wall Street investor is shot dead while jogging in Central Park. Then a few hours later a hedge-fund manager is gunned down outside a swank restaurant. Are the killings related?

That question sets off investigative journalist Ellen Dorsey, and her suspicions are confirmed when a CEO is killed next.

Soon we’re following her into the corrupt and dangerous world of shadowy financial deals and the Occupy Wall Street generation that oppose them. Fasten your seat belts.

Picador, $16

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