I have only read one other Brockmann novel but in both cases I have enjoyed this author's ability to entwine the past with the present. I must say that the beginning of INFAMOUS did not impress me all that much and I wasn't sure if this story was going to `do it' for me. Nevertheless, in the first hundred and twenty-five pages it was the mystery of Silas Quinn's legend that kept pulling me back in rather than the suspense that came along with the murder or the romance budding between A.J and Alison. The murder felt very low-key and so out of sync with the rest of the story that I had a hard time grasping the connection to the actual story being told. With the murder being easily pushed to the background it was the legend of Silas Quinn, his wife Melody and a gambler named Jamie Gallagher who really caught my interest.
The legend of Silas Quinn's epic love for his wife Melody, his heroic effort to defeat the Kelly gang in the wild west and the tragic death of his wife by the hand of Jamie Gallagher was a well known story in American history. This legend contained all that I love in a legend. First of all, nothing is what it seems, there is a vicious enemy to hate, a resilient heroine to admire, an anti-hero to cheer for, a tragic love to be swept away by and events that got glossed over by the victor in this legend. However, Jamie Gallagher had a story to tell...even though he was no longer among the living.
At the start I really had to make an effort to stay in to this story with a plethora of characters being introduced, various story threads being set-up and the main characters to get to know. I was also thrown out of my reading rhythm by the fact I had a hard time to distinguish the ghost narration by Jamie Gallagher. He sometimes was interacting with A.J. but often I was also inside his head, getting a piece of his inner thoughts and this wasn't emphasized by an italic font or anything else that made me aware I was suddenly inside Jamie's head, or that he was recapping certain events from the past. As the story progressed I got a feel for Jamie's narration but I feel it was an unnecessary struggle if it was printed differently.
INFAMOUS may not have started with a bang writing wise but I did fall for the main characters! Alison is a history professor working as a consultant on the set of the latest movie made about the legend of Silas Quinn. She is a woman who gets completely absorbed by her profession and subject, is someone who is very focused on the detail and methodically in acquiring information. Yet underneath all that sufficiency hides a passionate woman who has so much more to share and to give then her intelligence. I really liked Alison, she is a bit of an info geek on the time period of Silas Quinn. One of her first conversations with A.J is where she scalds him for wearing briefs under his jeans, that is not done for this movie's time period, and yes, she can notice if a guy is wearing briefs under his jeans which frankly impressed me. On the other hand, her feelings, her insecurities and doubts regarding A.J and his statement he sees one dead person, is believable and heartwarming at the same time.
A.J. is a man who didn't push my buttons but I still liked him so very much. He is an emotionally wounded hero which turned him in to an introvert and a loner, but with Alison he was also kind and charming with a core of virility that left no doubt he wanted Alison with all his pent up desires. He is a man who went through hell at some point in his life and erected walls in protection and to see them crumbling down was heart tugging and at times a bit emotional. The fact that he hasn't been among crowds for very long added a clumsy note to his behavior and interaction which was adoring at times and didn't diminish his manliness. His interaction with his deceased great-grandfather and the problems stemming from that interaction gives this story a humorous note. I often had to smile or giggle and Jamie Gallagher is a huge contributor to me loving this story so.
Jamie Gallagher was just as important to tell this tale as A.J and Alison were. Sometimes you meet characters that almost overpower the story with their larger than life persona and share a love story that moves you to tears. This is what Jamie did for me, he charmed my in all his outlaw ways and made a believer out of me in what an incredible man he really was. He "reconnected" with his great grandson to finally have the truth on the table about his side of the story what happened in Jubilation. That story is given by diary fragments and Jamie's own recap of events. He is the kind of infamous man whose own code of honor made him a man I could love. Who inspired his children and family, and as the story progressed I totally understood why he had that effect on them. He wasn't perfect but the depth of his emotions made him a hero nonetheless.
Everything in INFAMOUS was gradual, the mystery took it's time to unravel but always kept it on a level of fascinating, the romance was a slow-burn one but when it ignited the hunger, the craving between Alison and A.J it was palpable on the pages. The issues that raised between A.J and Alison due to the fact Jamie Gallagher was a ghost, and A.J. could talk to him, were realistic and believable. Though I think in the end the solution of whether or not Alison believed A.J. was a bit on the easy side, there was just so much more going on I didn't think about it until writing this review.
With four hundred and thirty-three pages there is a lot going on, much more then I can talk about but what I loved so much was the steady increase of romance, mystery and character depth that created an ending that moved me to tears. I rather have a story beginning slow but ending with a bang then the other way around and INFAMOUS was the former allowing me to totally fall in love with the main characters, which not only included A.J. and Alison but also Jamie Gallagher, Hugh Darcy, Melody and the many Gallagher's in Heaven, Alaska.
INFAMOUS is not a perfect story yet there is a powerful combination to be found of a past romance, entwined with a present, budding one. A legend mystery to unravel that kept my eyes glued to the pages and in the end everything culminated in to a romance-high that made my heart ache a bit to end this story.