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Bold Sons of Erin [Kindle Edition]

Owen Parry , Ralph Peters
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A Union general's senseless murder is swiftly cloaked in lies, and the evidence points to Irish laborers struggling to find a place in their new homeland. Washington intrigue and industrial corruption collide with hints of rural witchcraft and the sorrows of political exile in this Civil War novel by Owen Parry.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1279 KB
  • Print Length: 371 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0811711331
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books (1 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B0ZRJ7G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,282,109 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Abel Jones, a Welsh immigrant, is a soldier for the Union Army, seriously wounded during the early campaigns of the Civil War. Sent home to Pennsylvania to recuperate and rejoin his family, he is soon called back to service, this time in an investigative capacity. His high moral standards and his trustworthiness have brought him to the attention of President Lincoln, who has asked him to investigate the murder of General Carl Stone so that Lincoln and the country can avoid an international incident. The Germans and Russians are clamoring to know who killed Gen. Stone in Heckschersville, a community of Irish miners, and why. Gen. Stone has been recruiting Irish miners in Pennsylvania to the Union cause, and an Irishman has confessed to killing Gen. Stone.

The Civil War is raging, and local boys are dying. Wealthy mine owners are building personal empires while their workers endure abominable conditions. Revolutionaries and republicans are vying for political influence, churches and parishioners are trying to reconcile Darwin's Origin of the Species with their traditional beliefs, and women who have been the sole support of their families during wartime are being forced into subordinate roles when their men return from war. All these issues, well researched, play a part in the drama and add realism to the novel. Vivid personal glimpses of Lincoln, Sec. of State Seward, and other historical personages, combined with personal observations by Abel Jones, also develop a sense that these are real people engaged in real problems, subject to real, personal limitations.
This is not strictly a historical mystery, however. A strong sense of Gothic melodrama infuses the action, and a number of scenes are positively macabre.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Snapshot of the Civil War 22 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Set in the early stages of the American Civil War, this follows the career of one Abel Jones - a Welsh Methodist who moved to America to begin a new life then embraces his country. Starting as a clerk, his bravery and experience of war (in Queen Victoria's army) soon brings him to the attention of the upper echelons of the Union army ... including President Lincoln himself!
"Bold Sons of Erin" brings his assignment as an army investigator back to the coalfields where the death of a general has bought the turmoil of Irish dissent to a boil. Treading a fine line between a desire for justice and a respect for the hard life of the Irish in America, he undergoes many trials and pain, culminating at the battle of Fredricksburg.
Evocative of the hard times, this novel is well-written and atmospheric - from cold cemetary to blood-soaked battlefield, Major Jones carries the readers sympathies.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marching along with Abel Jones 14 Oct. 2003
By John W. Mountcastle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After a recent discussion of James M. McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era", several students asked me what other books I would recommend in order to get a sense of what 19th century Americans were like. Their primary interest is in understanding why people responded as they did to the Civil War. Among those titles I suggested were several novels. Owen Parry's "Abel Jones" series was in that group. The latest addition to the Jones saga, "Bold Sons of Erin" goes a long way toward helping today's reader understand the great divergence in attitudes and motivations of those living in the United States during the Civil War. They were not all singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by any means.
I think this author is doing us a great service by exploring the complex nature of our society in that period. His curiosity is contagious and his readers are the beneficiaries of his beautifully written stories that probe, investigate, and explain the Americans of the 1860s. I admire Owen Parry's skill in every aspect of his plot development, with his characters wonderfully drawn, and the suspense building to an exciting and satisfying climax. Having said that, I have to say that I enjoy his marvelous descriptions of Civil War combat even more.
The last chapter of this book describes the surreal quality of the repeated gallant assaults of Ambrose Burnsides' Union army against Lee's Confederates at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862. As seen through the eyes of Major Abel Jones, it was a day all Americans should never forget. He is a wonderful observer of the American scene and I will always be grateful that Owen Parry is telling his story.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You cannot go home again. 20 Feb. 2004
By R. BULL - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Owen Parry continues his Able Jones series with another book that gives a real sense of time, place and people. This time the place is Able's beloved hometown in the Pensylvania coal fields which turns out to be stranger than anywhere his travels have taken him so far. Once again the author gives us thumbnail sketches of historical figures. This novel has strong gothic elements, which were, for me, the least interesting part of the book. In additon to solving murders which nobody wants solved and working from limited information Able has to deal with his wife and son, who are changing in ways he did not anticipate. He also has to defend his staunch Methodism against enticing secular influences. Able is one hero aware of his own limitations...at least partially. He does not take himself too seriously...in the end. The book ends with a description of the slaughter of federal troops at the battle of Fredericksburg, which is, by itself, reason enough to buy this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem... 28 Nov. 2003
By Greg Todd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Owen Parry has given us another gem in his series of Civil War mysteries, and this one is an emerald.
*Bold Sons of Erin* takes us to the anthracite coal region of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the home of our hero, Major Abel Jones (and a region where our author has family roots as well). In *Bold Sons* we meet the Irish miners who settled in the area, learn a bit about their hard lives, and consider both those who fought for liberty wearing Union blue and those who fought for their liberty to stay out of the war. They battled prejudice and the company bosses to eke out a living, and many served valiantly for their new country and died on the fields of Antietam and Fredericksburg. The author gives us much in *Bold Sons* to think about.
Parry paints a detailed picture of the coal towns and the region of central and eastern Pennsylvania in the early 1860s. We see the streets and shops and hear the voices and sounds. As other books in the series have done for other settings, *Bold Sons* helps us to imagine what life might have been like in that place and time. That's one of my favorite things about the series and about this book as well.
The mystery of the murder -- or rather, murders -- at the heart of the book grabs our attention at the very beginning, as the blade of a shovel hits the wood of a coffin, and the story develops wonderfully around it. In many passages the action is vivid. Again as in the previous four novels in the series, Parry's characters are rich and colorful and his writing makes me Irish green with envy. In every respect, *Bold Sons of Erin* is a very worthy fifth book in the Abel Jones series. As a fan of the series, I enthusiastically recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical mystery with macabre, Gothic overtones. 23 Dec. 2003
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Abel Jones, a Welsh immigrant, is a soldier for the Union Army, seriously wounded during the early campaigns of the Civil War. Sent home to Pennsylvania to recuperate and rejoin his family, he is soon called back to service, this time in an investigative capacity. His high moral standards and his trustworthiness have brought him to the attention of President Lincoln, who has asked him to investigate the murder of General Carl Stone so that Lincoln and the country can avoid an international incident. The Germans and Russians are clamoring to know who killed Gen. Stone in Heckschersville, a community of Irish miners, and why. Gen. Stone has been recruiting Irish miners in Pennsylvania to the Union cause, and an Irishman has confessed to killing Gen. Stone.
The Civil War is raging, and local boys are dying. Wealthy mine owners are building personal empires while their workers endure abominable conditions. Revolutionaries and republicans are vying for political influence, churches and parishioners are trying to reconcile Darwin's Origin of the Species with their traditional beliefs, and women who have been the sole support of their families during wartime are being forced into subordinate roles when their men return from war. All these issues, well researched, play a part in the drama and add realism to the novel. Vivid personal glimpses of Lincoln, Sec. of State Seward, and other historical personages, combined with personal observations by Abel Jones, also develop a sense that these are real people engaged in real problems, subject to real, personal limitations.
This is not strictly a historical mystery, however. A strong sense of Gothic melodrama infuses the action, and a number of scenes are positively macabre. A gruesomely described exhumation, a visit to a madhouse, and necrophilia, incest, cannibalism, and bloody self-torture play as much of a role in the novel as accurate historical detail. These bizarre details distract the reader from the complex history, some of which, such as the role of labor activists (known as Mollie Maguires), is hinted at but never fully developed, making the author's focus feel a bit fuzzy. Parry is a fascinating writer, however, with many strong gifts. His vibrant characters, dialogue, unpredictable plot twists, and breath-taking narrative of the Battle of Fredericksburg make the reader hope he will find a balance between the excitement of real historical events and the sometimes disturbing melodrama he often creates to accompany them. Mary Whipple
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abel Jones is one of the Best Characters in Fiction 13 Mar. 2006
By Ian Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Union general recruiting among the Irish coal miners in Pennsylvania is dead. The confessed killer is also dead. But Major Abel Jones believes otherwise, convinced that the clannish Irish miners, violently opposed to the Civil War and emancipation, have hidden the killer. But when Jones opens the casket of the supposed murderer, and instead finds the body of a woman, he finds himself in a tangled web of political and social hatred and rivalries.

I say nothing new by stating that the central draw of Owen Parry's "Abel Jones" series is the beautifully developed character of Jones. "Bold Sons of Erin", the fifth entry in the series, displays that strength of character spectacularly. Jones for the most part remains the stiff, snotty, but honest Welsh Methodist we know and love, spouting off his low opinions of Irish Catholics, and his mixed views on everyone else. However, Jones experiences a great deal of growth, not only pursuing a murderer, but dealing with personal battles on the home front. His adventures have taken him from home. His wife Mary, while still loyal and understanding, is slowly losing patience with his sense of duty. His young son doesn't know him well. The young girl he has adopted has created resentment. And finally, when Mary's uncle dies, he leaves the Jones' with a great deal of wealth, and Abel with a horrible secret about his wife. Jones frequently finds himself reexamining his views of the world as the truths he has clung to are challenged by reality.

While set during the Civil War, Parry only brings that event to the foreground when necessary and appropriate. Jones is not Forrest Gump, miraculously present for every important event. He recounts witnessing Antietam early in the book, and gives us a very bloody and heartfelt description of the atrocity of Fredericksburg at the close of the novel. Jones works directly for Abraham Lincoln, and so meets with the president on one occasion. Parry's is more interested in the social ramifications and political maneuvering of the War than with the military aspects. Thus, Jones must struggle with resentful Irish violently opposed to the draft (even as the Irish brigade distinguishes itself), consumed by the superstitions of the old country; the loyal German immigrants whose importance to the Union effort cannot be understated, even as some of them have revolutionary tendencies; and the mysterious role of Russia, the only major European power to support the North. He also finds himself with the shifting social fabric of his own community, including his wife's growing independence.

The mystery itself is one of the best of the series, as Parry is very careful to weave a variety of plot lines into a nice chilling romp. Grotesque and violent imagery abounds, as Jones plumbs the mystery of the murdered general. As is often the case with a good mystery, red herrings abound, as matters that Jones initially believes important prove incidental, and trivial matters are the key to affairs. However, the truth of the matter is, sharing company with Jones is more than enough to keep a novel going. A well-constructed mystery is a bonus.

Parry continues to weave satisfying books. Sometimes, he even achieves a near-greatness. While I'm not sure what the future holds, Parry drops hints that there are plenty more adventures for Jones even after the Civil War. So as far as I am concerned, Parry can keep this series going as long as he wants.
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