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The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew…

The Convictions of John Delahunt

by Andrew Hughes

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A fascinating story of how one mans character flaw, lazziness, lands him in jail for child murder. When John Delahunt can't summon the wherewithal to pass his final exams he stumbles upon the job of snitching on his neighbors to the police. When he is no longer of use as an informer he starts to get creative and play loose with the law in order to get his payday. It is no secret, as we learn in the first few pages, that things don't go so well for the scheming John.

I loved the gothic mood of this novel based on an actual crime in the 1800's in Dublin. Hughes dark tale takes the reader on the journey of John Delahunt, a man of dubious morals who starts out on the right side of the law but because of his greed and aversion to real work, ends up on the end of the hangman's noose. Once you start this book you won't want to put it down until you reach the final twisty conclusion. ( )
  arielfl | Aug 11, 2015 |
Andrew Hughes has taken a bit of Irish history to give us a cautionary tale about the evils of governmental surveillance. Bureaucrats with hidden agendas recruit people to inform. People placed in extremis (e.g., torture) often then resort to providing misinformation that then can lead to unfortunate outcomes. This scenario has clear implications for recent events involving the revelations of America’s surveillance of its citizens and its reliance on information obtained from torture to justify attacking Iraq.

Hughes uses John Delahunt as his narrator. Delahunt was actually hung for murders he committed in 1842 while working as a police informer in Dublin. Hughes imagines him as a young man with limited ethical grounding who is recruited to contribute to a vast database maintained by the Dublin police, referred to in the novel as “the castle.” Delahunt tells his story in a series of events that escalate from the relatively benign to the truly horrible. Thomas Sibthorpe, a mysterious and possibly psychopathic cop, wants convictions without regard to guilt or innocence and uses brutal intimidation to control Delahunt. Meanwhile, Delahunt’s personal circumstances fall apart. His bride is disinherited by her wealthy family for eloping with him and then becomes addicted to laudanum following an abortion. His own inheritance is consumed by debt and he fails to complete his degree at Trinity. All of this results in Delahunt becoming quite destitute with few alternatives beyond what he had been doing for the castle.

In his narrative, Hughes evokes a 19th Century Dublin that is extremely dark. His descriptions of its dreary weather, alleys, pubs and streetwalkers are particularly effective. But his walk through the streets with little Thomas at the end of the novel is exceptionally chilling. The inclusion of a period map also provided useful information on the physical relationships of the various settings in the novel. ( )
1 vote ozzer | Jul 6, 2015 |
I found this book to be a fascinating one and my interest never flagged throughout the book, which is saying something because you know from the start how the story is going to turn out. Even with that knowledge, there were so many shocking moments that I was completely riveted to the book.

This is a historical novel loosely based on an actual event. As the main character, John Delahunt, waits for the hangman to take him from his prison cell, he writes down his story, which begins with his love for Helen. He's a poor student and he's desperate to earn enough to bring his family out of the less-than-desirable living arrangements that they find themselves in. He's caught up in a nefarious agency called "The Castle" and hesitantly begins to work for them. The methods of this agency to find and prosecute criminals is quite horrifying and the affect on Delahunt as he continues his efforts to please his boss is chilling.

The story is a very original one and the author has done an excellent job in portraying the moral decline of the characters. It's a completely believable story and definitely an engrossing one. The author transported me to a place and time where innocents are the victims of cruel greed. A dark, atmospheric, wonderfully written novel that I highly recommend.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. ( )
1 vote hubblegal | Jun 25, 2015 |
Simply amazing. The reader is taken on a tour through the streets of Dublin and witnesses the corruption of a well bred youth. I could not take my eyes off of this book for longer than an hour. The setting is at once alluring and the progression of the story satisfying. One of the best books I've read this year! ( )
1 vote DarthBrazen | Jun 15, 2015 |
Showing 5 of 5
The Convictions of John Delahunt reads like a true crime book, and in many ways it is. Mr. Hughes describes the vibrant, but often cruel life, both social and political, of 1840s Dublin, providing a background that is essential to any true crime story. The murders of the Italian Boy and of Thomas McGuire were both real cases in Dublin, and generated sensational headlines at the time. Many of the characters in the novel are historical figures, and others are so realistic that they could be. John Delahunt himself was hanged for the murder of Thomas McGuire on February 5, 1842.
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When the brutal murder of a young boy raises a public outcry in 1841 Dublin, the killer, a student with ties to Dublin Castle, recounts his dark underworld story while waiting for his execution.

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