Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: 'The Black Hand' by Jonathan Dunne

Irish author Jonathan Dunne, only 42 years of age, spent his teenage years working manual labor jobs before returning to school and college, earning his degree form the Dublin Institute of Technology. He is now a sports journalist with an Irish television network. He is also a columnist with several sports magazines and co-editor of the Irish Grappler Magazine. He is a self made man, capable in every avenue he approaches including being a 1st Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student. He lives in Dublin, Ireland with his wife and children. Jonathan is a strong advocate of lifelong learning and education. His first book, FIA THE ENVOY, is The Blind World Series Book 1 and is a fantasy story leaning toward the horror and the paranormal. In his current book Dunne takes us into horror of a different type – and the audience is now Young Adults.

Jonathan’s penchant for horror and fantasy serve his mysteries well. The biting flavor of his writing is present form the opening paragraphs: ‘The Glaswegian sat sipping his coffee as the St Patrick’s Day parade rolled on by. It always amazed him that the Irish celebrated a man who unleashed Catholicism and all its ills on Ireland. They should be burning the effigies instead of celebrating them. He let the thought linger for a few seconds, then cleared his mind of all distractions. He had a job to do. It was just after midday and he wouldn’t move until the band marched down O’Connell Street. The Glaswegian needed the noise to disguise the carnage he was about to let loose. Half of his contract had been paid. The other half would be transferred upon completion of the assignment. Fifteen more minutes passed as he calmly ran his thumb over the edge of his cup. The coffee was good; not great, just good. The band began their journey into the heart of Dublin as the Glaswegian ran a crisp white cloth over every surface he touched. Nothing was left to chance. He slipped off the main street and carefully shielded his appearance from every form of surveillance. His black beard, dark eyes, and protruding teeth were all false. The chances of being identified were negligible, but he was meticulous in that respect. The old structure rested halfway down a urine-soaked back street. It had a fire escape leading to several windows. He knew the window, the layout, and the schematics of this building intimately. Quietly and deliberately, he made his way into the building and followed the carefully constructed holes that led to the basement. When he reached it, he found an old lift shaft with a long ladder leading down into the vault. From this point onwards, he listened intently as the drumming of the bands outside got louder and louder. Perfect, he thought, as he began his downward climb. The insulation confused him until he realised it was sound-proof—an extra precaution to further disguise the noise of the ongoing construction. The Glaswegian allowed himself a rare smile. This was a team he admired. They were, like him, professional in their approach to criminality.’

The story is complex – rightly so – and the synopsis serves it well – ‘In the aftermath of Ireland’s most deadly gang war, Dublin’s ruling family has scattered to the wind. Into the void steps a criminal genius known only as The Black Hand. His organisation’s powerful grip is ruthless, bloody and barbaric. With Europe’s biggest crime in play, The Devil needs a distraction. And The Black Hand needs Jacob Boylan to return to Irish shores. He will stop at nothing to provoke Dublin’s most lethal criminal out of hiding. But has the wily genius misstepped? As all eyes are on Jacob, the Dublin exile carefully plans a gangland wipeout, for he is nobody’s pawn.’

Jonathan Dunne has successfully created a niche - a blend of crime, horror, violence, all told with that special sense of Irish grace that keeps the reader closely aligned with the characters. He continues to build a strong literary stance. Grady Harp, May 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.