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The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers (2010)

by Thomas Mullen

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2803262,579 (3.8)83
Follow the Depression-era adventures of Jason and Whit Fireson--bank robbers known as the Firefly Brothers by the press, the authorities, and an adoring public that worships their acts as heroic counterpunches thrown at a broken system.
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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Well, I thought this was just fabulous. The "magic" of the brothers' immortality is very nicely done -- it adds to the story without overpowering it. The characters were well-drawn and not sentimentalized in any way.

Also, it is the second book this year that would make a fantastic Coen brothers movie (the first was [b:The Sisters Brothers|9850443|The Sisters Brothers|Patrick deWitt|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1291999900s/9850443.jpg|14741473]). ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
The writing is okay, not brilliant. I was naively hoping for something like [b:The Sisters Brothers|9850443|The Sisters Brothers|Patrick deWitt|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1291999900s/9850443.jpg|14741473] but this is not nearly as witty. On the one hand, this is a book about two brothers trying to make sense of their apparent resurrections, their family, and their life as bank robbers in the face of their strong personalities. On the other hand, this is a book about the depression and how people tried to make sense of life after the financial catastrophe that destroyed their normal way of living, a time when "working hard and doing good" did not get a person anything, creating space for people to become heroes for alternative avenues. Seen in this second light, the book has more to offer than just a zany story about two men who don't stay dead. But it still works as fun fiction about bank robbers. Take what you like. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
When the colder, darker weather of autumn comes along, I seem to gravitate towards stories with a slightly darker feel to them, be it Gothic, noir or something a bit on the gritty side. Mullen’s Depression-era story is the perfect read to go along with rainy, wind-swept days. The title is an apt one, and provides the reader with a bit of insight into the story considering the story starts out with the Fireson brothers resurrection. One may throw their hands up in frustration at this but Mullen uses this “spoiler” of his own disclosure to build a wonderful story around the fact that the Fireson brothers have no memories of the events that lead to them “waking up” in the police morgue with their bodies altered by what looks like bullet holes. The story takes the reader on a Depression-era crime adventure in keeping with the myth, legend and lore of outlaw celebrities the likes of the Dillinger Gang and Bonny and Clyde. The story has everything – bank heists, bumbling cops, fedora-wearing Tommy-gun toting men, shoot-outs, a car chase, an intrepid young Bureau of Investigation agent, crooked business men and even a “damsel in distress”. While reading this one, I was able to see the story play out, like watching a flickering old black and white gangster movie.

The story has a decidedly noir feel to it, in part due to the gloomy Depression setting. Even with that gloom, the story provides glimpses of Robin Hood style flair as the Firefly Brothers become folk heroes of the destitute populous. There is a noticeable divide between the hard-core villains and the “charming gentlemen” criminals (hence that Robin Hood angle I mentioned earlier). Yes, the story has a phantasmagorical aspect to it in the resurrection of the Firefly Brothers and some of the story comes across as a bit of a cliché but, the heart of the story is really about a family (the Firesons) and the lies that people tell themselves and the people they love. The deep dive Mullen does into the past lives of his characters makes it stand out, for me anyways, from other bank heist-styled stories I have read to date. Outside of that core family piece, [The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers] is a wonderful escapism read where even the criminals are not “cut and dry” characters. As one reviewer has mentioned, “the story wonderfully illuminates why 1930’s America spawned so many dark heroes”. Everyone needs an idea or an individual to look up to, even if the attention is focused on an antihero. Under Mullen’s pen, one can easily see why antiheros can be so popular. ( )
  lkernagh | Nov 14, 2016 |
Well, I thought this was just fabulous. The "magic" of the brothers' immortality is very nicely done -- it adds to the story without overpowering it. The characters were well-drawn and not sentimentalized in any way.

Also, it is the second book this year that would make a fantastic Coen brothers movie (the first was [b:The Sisters Brothers|9850443|The Sisters Brothers|Patrick deWitt|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1291999900s/9850443.jpg|14741473]). ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Book Description
Publication Date: January 20, 2010
BONUS: This edition contains a The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers discussion guide.

In award-winning author Thomas Mullen’s evocative and spirited novel, we follow the Depression-era adventures of Jason and Whit Fireson—bank robbers known as the Firefly Brothers by an adoring public that worships their acts as heroic counterpunches thrown at a broken system. Late one night in August 1934, following a yearlong crime spree across the Midwest, the Firefly Brothers are forced into a police shootout and die in a hail of bullets. Or do they? Jason and Whit’s girlfriends—Darcy, a wealthy socialite, and Veronica, a hardened survivor—struggle between grief and an unyielding belief that the Firesons are alive. Wild rumors spread that the bandits are still at large. Through it all, the Firefly Brothers remain as charismatic, unflappable, and as mythical as the American dream itself, racing to find the women they love and to make sense of a world in which all has come unmoored. ( )
  camtb | May 4, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Men's memories are uncertain, and the past that was differs little from the past that was not.
- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
It seemed a little too pat. It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
- Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Dedication
For my parents, brothers, and sister.
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It all began when they died.
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Book description
Late one night in August 1934, following a yearlong spree of bank robberies across the Midwest, the Firefly Brothers are forced into a police shootout and die . . . for the first time.

In award-winning author Thomas Mullen’s evocative new novel, the highly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed debut, The Last Town on Earth, we follow the Depression-era adventures of Jason and Whit Fireson—bank robbers known as the Firefly Brothers by the press, the authorities, and an adoring public that worships their acts as heroic counterpunches thrown at a broken system.

Now it appears they have at last met their end in a hail of bullets. Jason and Whit’s lovers—Darcy, a wealthy socialite, and Veronica, a hardened survivor—struggle between grief and an unyielding belief that the Firesons have survived. While they and the Firesons’ stunned mother and straight-arrow third son wade through conflicting police reports and press accounts, wild rumors spread that the bandits are still at large. Through it all, the Firefly Brothers remain as charismatic, unflappable, and as mythical as the American Dream itself, racing to find the women they love and make sense of a world in which all has come unmoored.

Complete with kidnappings and gangsters, heiresses and speakeasies, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is an imaginative and spirited saga about what happens when you are hopelessly outgunned—and a masterly tale of hardship, redemption, and love that transcends death.
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