WE WERE KINGS
Guns and weapons being brought into Boston and hopefully sent back to Ireland are at the heart of this novel. Assault rifles and others have been brought here into Boston Harbor and then hopefully ordered to be sent to Ireland . Cal O’Brian and Dante Cooper have tried to rid Boston are the Irish Mob. The political landscape of the city and the culture of the people described lets readers know early on that everyone is out for themselves hoping to own and claim parts of the city. We Are Kings is a highly complex novel that flashes back and forth between different locations in Boston and Ireland. The heat is oppressive as the authors describe the stagnant area, the lack of air conditioning and the smells that fill the air as people attend to their lives. The tension and stress is compounded by the heat and within Boston as in many other cities the underworld is out to claim the streets and find their way to avoid the police and create wars among themselves. The story opens when a body is found at the Charlestown locks so destroyed as the author describes what happens when someone is tarred, feathered and shot in the head. Gangland killings are not uncommon and sometimes go unsolved. But, for some reason this one will not remain cold.
Owen Lackey is the detective in charge of this case and with the help of his cousin Cal and close friend Dante he hopes they can infiltrate the bars, the back alleys and find out who was wanted to intercept a boat arriving in Boston stacked with stolen guns and ammunition. Sometimes murders have their own symbol or are recognized as hits for certain organizations. This is a gangland murder appearing as retaliation for IRA informers. This murder might have more at stake than the higher-ups in the force realize and Owen is willing to take it to the limit to find out. Cal and Dante each have their own-checkered pasts and their present lives are not simple to say the least. Cal has chosen to adopt a young child named Maria and hoping with the help of his sister Claudia to care for her. But, Claudia is not focused, gets drunk and is seeing someone named Vinny, definitely not reputable and often leaves the task of caring for Maria to Cal and worse, leaving her alone to fend for herself. Dante loves music and hopes to reconnect by playing in bands and searching the Irish-American areas in Dudley Square, Dorchester and South Boston to find the killers. Murders are running rampart and the clock is ticking because the Irish funeral homes are flooded with bodies and their final destination is not a grave in America. The novel spans many locales in both settings the dance halls, Irish wakes, numerous funeral parlors, sleazy bars, meeting halls with secret agendas, rooming house not fit for a fly to live in and a plot that would bring chills to your core as the IRA Army comes front and center and Cal has to face more than them before all is said and done. Learning about his father, his dealings with the IRA and meeting with Father Nolan he sets up a meet with someone who can tell him more. Visiting his father’s grave, seeing the poor care it is given you wonder why what happened to alienate them.
Learning more about those behind the murders, the latest mission and meeting Bobby Myles and Martin Butler we learn more about the man in charge, the one who seems elusive right now and what Bobby and several others are required to do. The settings are vividly depicted, the poverty level high and the area not really fit for humans to live in as we learn more about he Irish Republican Army in Ireland dedicated to Irish republicanism and the belief that Ireland should be an independent republic added in as we getting deeper into the plot that they belief in political violence in order to get what they want. There are many schools of thought about the IRA but some argue that more recently created factions or organizations that insist they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA referring or calling themselves “Old IRA.” There are many factions or splits within the IRA. The first came after 1921 with supports of the Anglo-Irish Treaty forming the main core of the National Army called the Irish Free State while those opposing the newly created state and against the treaty kept the original name Irish Republican Army. After their Civil war the Ira remained for over 40 years until it split again in two : Official IRA and Provisional IRA. The latter did not remain in tack and split to become the Real IRA. The latter became after its splits the Real IRA and Continuity IRA each claiming to be the true successor of the Army of Irish Republic. The air still holds within this novel as there are many involved from Ireland that is controlling the situation in Boston.
Cal and Dante made a vow or promise to help Owen find out who was behind the murders, which the informant was that told that the shipment was coming and where it might wind up. But, Owen never found out because someone wanted him silenced but whom and why? He never saw it coming as he opened the door of his house and four thugs took him out before he knew what hit him. But, neighbors came, the police vowed to avenge his death but only Cal and Dante had the sources to complete what the police did not. Claiming they were on it, breaking down doors to arrest anyone they thought involved they never saw the one man who was right in front of them claiming to want to help and veer them in the right direction. Vincent de Burgh was the man who funded the funerals for the six men murdered. He was considered a rich Irish philanthropist yet he was never seen, no one could locate him but the checks were signed and the work paid for. Searching within the bars, remembering their pasts, Cal relives the gangland killing that took his wife, father’s past and his relationship to what is happening in the present, Dante, adopting a child and dealing with a sister who is on drugs and finds herself with an abusive man, We Were Kings deals with the downfall of so many and the rise of some who feel empowered to take over the streets of Boston all the way from across the pond in Ireland. When Dante and Cal wonder why the men who were killed were not buried since the funerals happened and no one made a move to ship them home, the pieces fall into place and the end result will shock readers. Guns bound for Ireland somewhere in the city and talking to a man named Sully enlightened them but the authors share more within Chapter 22. Father Nolan is the priest and you won’t believe his role or his link as it becomes clearer to Cal just where his father fit in being a longshoreman and aiding in bringing in the weapons. His role will surprise Cal in some ways but knowing how he treated him as a kid most of it does not come as a complete surprise.
Donal, Kieran Fitzgerald, Bobby Myers and one more man are behind what is going to go down very soon. Men in place because they were ordered to be there and one of the team decided to go rogue on his own. Martin Butler, Bobby Myers, Vincent de Burgh, and an ending that will leave you with chills, fear and understanding that some will live, some will not and those that were Kings will now answer to the only one that will reign. The story ends but the saga continues when you read the final pages.
What is next for Cal and Dante? What about Claudia? What about their children? Whose lives will remain whole? Whose will never be the same and where will the shipment wind up? We Were Kings: Some will continue to reign and others be reminded that THE IRISH ARE COMING! WHEN?
Characters ripped right out of the recent headlines in Ireland and events that are more than just true to life as the authors bring to light the impact of the IRA in the 50’s and remind us they still have as strong an impact now.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine