Such an Unlikely Venue for a Descent into Hell

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Woe be unto those unfortunate souls who live on Honeysuckle Lane.

It appears to be like any other middle-class neighborhood, this one located outside Dublin. The people there have secrets, most of which are just those that might appear familiar to you and me. A man is hiding a gambling addiction. A woman is bored with her workaholic husband, and a mischievous musician offers temptation next door. A battered woman tries to raise a family and keep her boorish husband at bay.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

What stirs this scattering of sparks into a conflagration is a demented loner, hiding in his house and watching what happens with evil obsession. His name is Brendan Roche. He fancies himself a superior being.

All sorts of horrible events start occurring. Threats of violence. Actual violence. Freak accidents. A police detective, Stephen Adams, starts to connect the dots. In time, it strikes him odd that so much nefarious activity seems to emanate from one insignificant street. Part of it is his experience, but what gets him into trouble is almost random. He happens upon Roche at a decidedly bad time.

Author Squid McFinnigan mixes his ingredients into a tasty stew. He starts out with Frank O’Shea’s descent into gambling hell and pits him against a ruthless thug. He depicts the mischievous Angie and her doomed boyfriend, Tony. Joan Sims becomes Adams’ partner and girl Friday. Martha is unfaithful to Tim and cheats on him with Ogie. All the while, Brendan watches it all, in person and electronically, growing more and more obsessed and demented. The superior being aspires to supremeness. Slowly, his obsession overwhelms his diabolical schemes. The voices he hears give him bad advice.

The result, on all fronts, is disaster. The body count rises. McFinnigan is pitiless. Likable characters expire in gruesome ways. Relationships die, too. Precious few are left to rise from the ashes of Roche’s depraved pyre.

Honeysuckle Lane depicts a glorious debacle, skillfully conceived by an emerging master of the crime genre.

I felt a certain kinship with the author while reading his tale. I sense that, like me, he starts out with a plan for the exposition of the plot while, at the same time, allowing for adjustments on the fly. I try to get to know the characters I’ve created and write through them. At times, while I’m rewriting, editing, and updating, I think, well, would he (or she) really do that? Why wouldn’t he go in a different direction? Then I curse myself for being a troublemaker and go about the task of changing this, which changes that, which leads to a whole sequences of dominoes falling differently.

The result is a certain unpredictable course that I find appealing and I hope readers share. Many novels are so carefully plotted that they become predictable. Who reads a suspense thriller without anticipating in his mind what direction it will go next? It’s nice to be surprised and to have assumptions dashed.

I find appealing a certain combination of organization and spontaneity. How well I achieve it is best analyzed by the reader. As a reader of Honeysuckle Lane, I like McFinnigan’s style.

Honeysuckle Lane carries with it the initial expectation that it’s about Frank O’Shea, but then all sorts of other tales intrude to share space with the first one. Stephen Adams seems the logical contender to put the issues together and solve the crimes.

It all gets more complicated. I like that about my own work, and I like it in Honeysuckle Lane. You can buy it here.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

My book of short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, is called Longer Songs, and you can buy it here.

The Audacity of Dope is a tale about a pot-smoking singer-songwriter who becomes a reluctant national hero. He prevents someone from blowing up the plane he’s on, and both hilarity and drama ensue. My first novel is an irreverent, fun read.

The Intangibles is my most personal. Set mostly in 1968, it draws on memories from my childhood and teen-aged years. It’s a story of civil rights, bigotry, and high school football.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Crazy of Natural Causes has a main character who is an outrageous football coach at the beginning, loses everything and has to start over. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

TrespassesCoverForgive Us Our Trespasses is a yarn about a corrupt, ambitious politician who wants to be governor and will do anything to achieve it. It has a parallel story of a good cop who’s trying to stop the monster and another of kids gone wild.

To peruse all my books, including most of the non-fiction ones from my NASCAR years, click here.


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