“What a beguiling debut Brendan Mathews has given us!”
“Brash, bold, completely entertaining.”
— Andrea Barrett
"Comic, violent, and moving."
"Entertaining...outsized...A big, expressive debut." —Wall Street Journal
"Admirably fearless... Mathews has talent in buckets."
—New York Times Book Review
20 Must-Read Books of the Fall
June 1939. Francis Dempsey and his shell-shocked brother, Michael, are on an ocean liner from Ireland headed for their brother Martin’s home in New York City, having stolen a small fortune from the IRA. During the week that follows, their lives collide spectacularly with big-band jazz musicians, a talented but fragile heiress, a Jewish street photographer facing a return to Nazi-occupied Prague, a vengeful mobster, and the ghosts of their own family’s revolutionary past.
But when Tom Cronin, a one-time assassin forced into one last job, tracks the brothers down, their lives begin to fracture: Francis must capitulate to blackmail, or have his family suffer fatal consequences. Michael, wandering alone, turns to the heartsick artist Lilly Bloch to recover his lost memory. And Francis and his wife Rosemary try to salvage a marriage, a wedding, and ultimately the lives of the other Dempseys.
From the smoky jazz joints of Harlem to the Plaza Hotel, from the garrets of artists in the Bowery to the shadowy warehouses of mobsters in Hell’s Kitchen, Brendan Mathews brings prewar New York to vivid, pulsing life, while the sweeping and intricate storytelling of this remarkable debut reveals an America that blithely hoped it could avoid another catastrophic war by focusing instead on the promise of the World’s Fair: a peaceful, prosperous “World of Tomorrow.”