My dear bookish friends,
Today I have for you a review of Under the Bridge by Jack Byrne, a book which is currently on tour with TheWriteReads! Big thank you to the tour organiser as well as the author for my spot on the tour and an ecopy of the book! I love broadening my horizon, and straying from my usual genres is one of the best ways to do that I think, so I was very happy that reading this book did not disappoint! Do read on to find out more about the book, and for my detailed review!
2004 – The discovery of a skeleton in the Liverpool docklands unearths long buried secrets. Reporter, Anne McCarthy, is keen to prove herself and dives into the case with abandon where she finds Michael, an old Irish caretaker who knows far more than he’s letting on and may have a connection to the body.
Meanwhile, Vinny Doyle, is starting a postgrad degree, researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. But Vinny has been neglecting his own family history and stranger Michael might know about his father’s disappearance in the 70s.
1955 – Escaping violence in Ireland and fresh off the boat, Michael falls in with Wicklow boys Jack Power and Paddy Doyle, who smuggle contraband through the docks putting them at odds with unions while they rally the dock workers against the rackets and the strikebreakers. A story of corruption, secret police, and sectarianism slowly unravels. But will the truth out?
As the conflict heightens, Michael questions the life sprawling out ahead of him. In the present, Anne races to solve the mystery, but is she prepared for what she’ll find?
Under the Bridge is a murder mystery set in Liverpool and spanning many decades. Throughout the novel, it becomes clear that the author has spent a great deal of time and effort researching his subject – the city of Liverpool itself, its history, society, and culture all become almost palpable in a way. It almost feels as if Liverpool is the main character together with Vinny, Anne, Michael, and the rest of the supporting roles.
Along with the obvious theme of the murder mystery which is being presented to us here, there are also some other tough subjects touched upon which the author doesn’t shy away from – religion, immigration, and racism being just a few of them. Reading this novel, you will not only learn more about Liverpool’s past and present, but also about Irish history, as well as some of the links between the Irish and English. If you’re a fan of broadening your horizon while still reading fiction, this is a good choice!
We get told this story from several points of view of which I probably liked Anne’s the most. She is a young journalist, trying to get a foot in this hard business, working hard to achieve this dream of hers, and not shying away to get her hands dirty in the process. She is smart and ambitious, but also a little naive, which can be excused, I think, as she is giving her best for the job.
While I usually enjoy an alternating POV, I found the numerous changes in the focalisation in this novel a bit hard to follow at times. Together with the back and forth in the timeline, it was getting a bit hard to keep apart what was in the past and what is now, who is seeing what and who can know what. I think it might have sufficed keeping the story running by just seeing everything unravel through the eyes of the three main characters.
Other than that, I think this is an engaging novel with a murder mystery as a base, but there is a whole lot more going on here. If you want to learn a bit about Liverpool’s history and how it’s tied to the Irish, while also being entertained reading a mystery, this is the book for you!
3.5 stars from me!
Thank you all so much for reading, and do let me know if you decide to pick this book up!