From the Publisher
"Exciting and explosive . . . As though Angela's Ashes had been crossed with the novels of Cormac McCarthy."—Colm Toibin
"Written in pungent, slangy prose . . . Part detective story, part coming-of-age novel."—Erik Burns, The New York Times Book Review
"Sweeney paints his landscape with the eye of a Constable and the ear of a thief . . . [This book] leaves a thirst for more."—Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times
"Sweeney's language fuses resiual Gaelic lilt with staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new."—Entertainment Weekly
"[A] fine first novel . . . filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness . . . hard to put down and hard still to forget."—Neil Plakey, The Chicago Tribune
"Powerfully, sometimes brutally direct . . . [Sweeney] has fashioned a satisfying tale of quest and comeuppance."—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Grim, angry, profane, and entirely convincing . . . Paul's salvation, when it comes, is hard-won and persuasive. Like everything else in this book, it has an authenticity found only in the work of first-rate writers."—Kirkus Reviews
"In the character of Paul Kelly, Sweeney has carefully traced the psychological parameters of a man divided by pain . . . It is a testament to Sweeney's authorial skill that Kelly somehow remains a sympathetic character . . . The range of well-drawn lesser characters . . . aid in making the Kelly family's tragedy feel achingly real."—Detroit Free Press
Sweeney's language fuses residual Gaelic lilt staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new.
Sweeney paints his landscape with the eye of a Constable and the ear of a thief...[It] leaves a thirst for more.
Los Angeles Times
Written in pungent, slangy prose...part detective story, part coming-of-age novel as Paul's wild ride drags him into parts of his life he had hoped to close off forever.
New York Times Book Review
[A] fine first novel...filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness...hard to put down and harder still to forget.
The Chicago Tribune
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dublin writer Sweeney debuts with a slam-tough, shocking novel that mirrors contemporary Irish life by drawing on ancient themes in a wholly modern style. Paul Kelly thinks he has escaped the drudgery and poverty of his childhood by establishing a comfortable existence in London. Yet the brutality and horror of his past, including his wife's death from a heroin overdose, continue to haunt him, and the joy of raising his beloved young daughter is marred by his increasing alcoholism, the cruel "healer" of the title. When his brother is savagely murdered, Paul returns to the small town of Rathbawn to avenge his sibling and to work through his fury and bitterness. What ensues is a dark rampage through violent terrain. The border counties of Ireland have always been riven with conflicts over politics and land, with drug running and gang warfare now added to the mix, and Sweeney observes the place and its people with an unflinching eye. Searching for his brother's killers, Paul is again exposed to the raw cruelty of rural poverty. His brother's ex-girlfriend is an outcast in her own village. An engagement party explodes into blood and gore when a masked gunman coolly opens fire. A disillusioned cop gives Paul the address of the man he seeks to kill. Paul is a world-weary hero whose torment translates with credibility into blood-drenched vengeance, but he is not an evil man. His black humor is laced with the wry references to popular culture that invest Sweeney's prose with a smart and cutting-edge, yet permit moments of lyricism. The conclusion, which tells of Paul's spiritual transcendence, is neither trite nor typical. It's a fitting end to this bold and exhilarating gallop through the dark side of Irish life.(Feb.)
Sweeney, a writer for the Irish Times, got a healthy advance for this first novel, published in England in 1997 to solid reviews. He's said to be a cross between Frank McCourt and Cormac McCarthy, and he's certainly claiming attention as a contemporary Irish voice. (The title refers to waiting for the pubs to open each day.) Paul Kelly, a London pub manager, left Ireland under a cloud eight years ago. Now widowed and the father of a four-year-old girl, he is drawn home to avenge his brother's murder. Paul is quickly sucked back into a vicious street life as he and a mate hunt for the killer of both their brothers. His wife's heroin-related death is gradually revealed, transforming Paul's quest for revenge into a search for redemption. In illuminating damaged lives, Sweeney captures their language in cadence and numbing profanity. Surprisingly enough, the novel ends on a positive note. For literary collections.Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights