Review: The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes

Description (from cover):

‘Beautifully observed, seductive, and laced with dark humor, a gripping historical thriller–set in 1840’s Dublin–about a man who betrays his family, his friends, his society and, ultimately, himself.
Dublin, 1841. On a cold December morning, a small boy is enticed away from his mother and his throat savagely cut. This could be just one more small, sad death in a city riven by poverty, inequality and political unrest, but this murder causes a public outcry. For it appears the culprit–a feckless student named John Delahunt–is also an informant in the pay of the authorities at Dublin Castle. And strangely, this young man seems neither to regret what he did, nor fear his punishment. Indeed, as he awaits the hangman in his cell in Kilmainham Gaol, John Delahunt decides to tell his story in this, his final, deeply unsettling statement…
Based on true events that convulsed Victorian Ireland, The Convictions of John Delahunt is the tragic tale of a man who betrays his family, his friends, his society, and, ultimately, himself. Set amidst Dublin’s taverns, tenements, courtrooms, and alleyways and with a rich, Dickensian cast of characters, this enthralling, at times darkly humorous novel brilliantly evokes a time and a place, and introduces a remarkable new literary voice.’

My thoughts:

This book was utterly compelling and yet dark at the same time. The author takes the reader through 19th century Dublin and shows just how corrupt the government was at that time. John Delahunt gets caught up in the government and its darkness by acting as an informant for the government. The government wants details on its citizens so that it can be used to coerce confessions or used for blackmail. Different information earns the informant different amounts of money and there were a lot of people who earned their livings by ratting out their friends, family and neighbors. John Delahunt is a poorly student and has recently met the girl of his dreams. He wishes to marry her, but her family refuses saying that John cannot properly provide for her. Nevertheless, the couple elopes and soon find themselves cut off from all sources of income. John finds himself in a hot bother and decides to make some money by being an informant for the government.

What John doesn’t realize is that some informants create their own information. Some do murder and other dark deeds just to blame innocent people to collect the fee for the information. John is tortured by this thought, but soon finds himself living in destitute conditions and he has to make ends meet. Of course, his superiors aren’t exactly angels either. This world is cutthroat and you must always watch your back as you can trust no one. I really enjoyed this book as it was a nice portrait into 19th century Dublin and how the government held sway over its citizens. This book was a little gory in places, but other than that, I thought it was a fantastic historical read.

This book opened my eyes to a whole different world of history. It showed me the darker side of history and how corrupt people and governments could be. It really shouldn’t come quite as a shock, but the author did a fantastic job of taking the true story of a lesser-known historical figure and making his story a compelling and engaging read. It was hard to put this one down and I highly encourage it for all historical fiction lovers.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  The Convictions of John Delahunt
Author:  Andrew Hughes
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Pegasus
Publication Date:  June 15, 2015
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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