The Boston Globe
Unforgettable . . . This novel has a great voice, a great plot, great suspense, a great evocation of time and place.
The Providence Journal
McLarty excels at creating a sense of place, but he is positively brilliant at creating characters. We care about these people.
When Jono Riley receives a letter that a childhood friend, Marie, has died, the 50-something third-rate actor and bartender leaves New York to visit his hometown of Providence, R.I. His search for answers surrounding her death leads Riley on a long and winding trip through old memories to discover the person responsible. Narrator-turned-author McLarty delivers a sophomore novel that is more than just a simple mystery. The suspense doesn't drive the story but rather Riley's recounting of his adolescent years from the death of his father to his return from Vietnam. These nostalgic flashbacks of street life in Providence in the 1960s capture certain universal aspects that all listeners can appreciate. McLarty voices this first-person story with all the adeptness one would expect from an experienced narrator and author. His vocal characterizations provide added presence to many of his colorful characters and he delivers exposition with great attention to detail. He shines best with emotional displays from Jono and the other characters. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 9). (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Successful actor McLarty launches a second novel about a not-so-successful actor in Manhattan who travels home to confront a few mysteries when he hears that his first love has died. With a six-city tour; online readers' guide. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Jono Riley, a bartender and sometime actor, looks back on a series of childhood events that have mystified him over the years. As a means of self-preservation, he has scrupulously avoided introspection most of his adult life. However, he has just received a letter from a close childhood friend, Cubby D'Agostino, letting him know that Cubby's sister, Marie, has passed away unexpectedly. Forty years earlier, 12-year-old Marie was 11-year-old Jono's first love. She was also the central figure of a mystery that has subliminally haunted him ever since. Now, Cubby's letter triggers memories that Jono can no longer ignore. As the story marches toward its inevitable conclusion, readers begin to see why Jono has buried many of his childhood recollections. McLarty skillfully uses alternating chapters to flash back and then propel the story forward as he builds suspense and gradually unravels the mystery that Jono wants very much to forget. The protagonist is a very human character who must deal with issues of loyalty, friendship, and ambiguity.
Catherine GilbrideCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Boyhood friendships and dreams are reshaped by mysteries that resonate for decades in the veteran character actor's flavorful successor to his well-received debut novel, The Memory of Running (2005). Like that novel, this one takes the form of a journey-undertaken by middle-aged bartender and working actor Jono Riley, its narrator. When old friend Cubby D'Agostino notifies Jono of the death of his sister Marie (whom Jono had not so secretly loved when they were kids), a trip back to his old East Providence, R.I., neighborhood coincides with a flood of sometimes wistful, but often painful, memories-as well as unanswered questions. Who fired the shotgun, wounding 12-year-old Marie, who lived 40 years with a bullet in her back, until it "traveled," finally killing her? What is the secret that made Jono's "Portagee" buddy Bobby Fontes old before his time, and deepened the vulnerability none of his old friends had ever sensed? The book feels somewhat muddled early on, as McLarty awkwardly juggles interlocking flashbacks, but the story quickly settles into a lucid juxtaposition of past and present. There's some charmingly funny stuff about adolescent camaraderie and mischief, and Jono's wry, salty voice is a pleasure to listen to (even when McLarty regales us with rather too many theater-related anecdotes). Nice supporting characters, too, including Jono's tenderhearted tough-broad girlfriend Renee, Bobby's pathetic drunken inamorata Colleen, brutal neighborhood bully "Poochy" Ponserelli and 390-pound bouncer (and bibliophile) Randall Pound. Contains too many echoes of films (from The Deer Hunter to Mean Streets to Sleepers), including particularly significant debts to Dennis Lehane's MysticRiver and the Clint Eastwood adaptation thereof. Still, a lively, big-hearted tale, drenched in gritty working-class ambience. Agent: Jeff Kleinman/Graybill & English Literary Agency