Fenian Street by Anne Emery

Just in time for the weather to turn and your attention to turn to being cozy while reading a hefty mystery novel, Anne Emery’s new book, Fenian Street, is here. A twisty, layered mystery set in Ireland during the height of the Troubles, Fenian Street is a storyteller’s mystery, focused on immersing you into the world of 1970s Dublin, a colourful cast of characters, and danger rooted in a centuries-old conflict. While Emery does a good job of inserting explanations about the cultural context of the Troubles, Irish republicanism, and some of the religious differences, I recommend doing a quick brush-up of the Troubles in order to get the full richness of this mystery.

“Emery’s writing is lush and vivid, filled with the joy of a true storyteller.”

Shay Rynne is a Dublin boy, born and bred. Living in tenement flats on Fenian Street, he’s one of several children in a poor family, with a father who isn’t always on the right side of the law, and a pile of buddies to chum around with. He also has two godfathers: one who spent time in prison, and one who is a detective sergeant in the Garda Síochána. More than anything, this is what Shay wants to do when he grows up: follow in the footsteps of his godfather, and join the police force. His goal is reaffirmed when one of the girls on his block, Rosie McGinn, is murdered one evening at her job. Shay makes it onto the force, and seeks to solve what happened to Rosie: a crime which links to another murder, the Irish mob in New York, British spies, office politics, and of course, the IRA and the Troubles.

I’m not a big mystery reader myself, but the reason I was drawn to this was the setting. Emery’s writing is lush and vivid, filled with the joy of a true storyteller. There are lots of details and threads that don’t always make it to the main story, but do great work in establishing the settings and creating the fullness of life – Shay, his family, friends, and other involved acquaintances are much more realistic because of the little side scenes. As Shay gets deeper into the murders, the story gets twistier but never bleak, despite the subject matter.

Fenian Street is a thoroughy enjoyable read. Full of bright characters with very human motives, it was a fun, intriguing read, with an excellent historical setting. No parts of it drag, and it was a wonderfully compelling mystery, with all of the messy realities of crime and poverty.


Anne Emery is a lawyer and the author of the Collins-Burke mystery series, which has won Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel and Best First Novel, as well as the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction and an Independent Publisher Book Awards silver medal. “One of Canada’s finest novelists” (Ottawa Review of Books), she lives in Halifax, NS.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ECW Press (Sept. 13 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 440 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 177041388X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770413887

 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.