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Black Irish (Abbie Kearney #1)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,245 Ratings  ·  383 Reviews
In this explosive debut thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water, a brilliant homicide detective returns home, where she confronts a city’s dark demons and her own past while pursuing a brutal serial killer on a vengeful rampage.

Absalom “Abbie” Kearney grew up an outsider in her own hometown. Even being the adopted daughter of a revered cop
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Richard Derus
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: In this explosive debut thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water, a brilliant homicide detective returns home, where she confronts a city’s dark demons and her own past while pursuing a brutal serial killer on a vengeful rampage.

Absalom “Abbie” Kearney grew up an outsider in her own hometown. Even being the adopted daughter of a revered cop couldn’t keep Abbie’s troubled past from making her a misfit in the working-class Iris
Krystin Rachel
I grew up in the Niagara area of Ontario, right on the border of Buffalo. And I gotta say I never realized there was an Irish Buffalo.

Apparently, Buffalo has the second highest concentration of Irish people in all of the US. Spit on my neck, I was shocked about that tiddly-bit of fact. I've been so conditioned by Ben Affleck to expect a novel like this to be set in Boston. Damn you Affleck!

...okay, he looks real good there, so....forgiven!

Despite being the daughter of a legendary Detec
Scott Rhee
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, evil can simply be the turning away from a cry for help, an inaction rather than an action. Sometimes, evil is birthed in the moral apathy and emotional indifference of a community. It is sometimes said that evil is born, not made. This is not true. Evil is very definitely made, by man.

Absalom "Abbie" Kearney, the protagonist of Stephan Talty's debut thriller "Black Irish", knows this instinctually. Born and raised in the mean streets of south Buffalo, New York---a mean town full of
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anyone who lived in Charlestown or South Boston back in the day will feel right at home in Stephan Talty’s South Buffalo in “Black Irish.” Residents call the neighborhood “the County.” It’s a tight-knit community of Irish immigrant families with a rampant distrust of outsiders. Even though Detective Absalom “Abbie” Kearney grew up there and was adopted by the town’s legendary Detective John Kearney, with her “black Irish” hair, blue eyes, and Harvard degree, she’s treated as an outsider. It’s an ...more
Stacy Green
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a really good, page turning mystery. The author brings the segregation and social attitudes of Buffalo to life, and the main character is very likable. My only complaint is that while his writing is great, Talty doesn't always do a great job getting into the head of a woman. But that's hard to do:) I read this book in just a few sittings, so I'd definitely recommend!
Bob Price
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Beware of the Irish mob....of Buffalo....

That is pretty much the message of Black Irish, the new mystery/thriller by author Stephan Talty.

Before one sees the 'two stars' and thinks that this book is a clunker...I want to rest assured that there is a lot in this book that is good.

The setting is interesting and having no knowledge of Buffalo...or of the rampant Irish mob they apparently have there.

Talty's heroine, Absalom Kearney is a brand new police officer to the Buffalo PD. Her adopted fathe
David Monroe
This was, I believe, Mr. Talty's first published work of fiction. Talty’s South Buffalo is insular, paranoid, parochial, dying and dangerous. I grew up in a tiny, insular, paranoid, parochial (though not dangerous) farm community -- I can relate.

I really came to like the Harvard educated Buffalo police detective, Absalom “Abbie” Kearney. I'd read another of her adventures, if Mr. Talty feels he has one in him.

Ratings: Again... *sigh* I'm vexed by the lack of half stars. If I could, I'd give it 3
Josh Stevens
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was thoroughly enjoying this book until about halfway through when the main character (a sharp minded, quick thinking, strong willed but emotionally damaged woman) decided to use sex as a means of getting information from someone. It really threw a wrench in the story for me and took away from this incredible female lead. The ending seemed a bit thrown together and lacking any clues to point to who the killer really was. Well written but absolutely fizzled at the end.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Black Irish written by Stephan Talty is a March 2013 release, published by Ballantine Books/Random House.

Absalom ( Abbie) Kearney is a cop working for the small enclave dubbed "The County" in Buffalo, New York. Abbie grew up here, but always felt like an outsider. She had been adopted by a highly respected cop in this predomintately Irish community. Abbie's dark hair and translucent skin made her stand out. She worked in Miami for awhile, but has come home to care for her father who has Alzheime
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A 5 star most excellent read!

Wow. I need aspirin. I have a tension headache from being so dang tense for most of this book!
This story drove me nuts trying to figure it all out. Lots of twists and turns, page turning thrills, one tough ass heroine and just when you think you have it…whapow, another twist. Great believable characters and a very interesting plot line.
I learned a lot of things about my Irish heritage and the IRA I didn't know. Who had ever heard of the "Clan na Gael" before? The Ir
Diane S ☔
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 This thriller takes place in Buffalo New York and apparently South Buffalo has the second largest concentration of Irish, second only to Chicago. It was once a thriving city with a large amount of manufacturing plants and steel mills, it has, however, become another city in crisis with many young people leaving the area to find employment. The tone of this novel is pitch perfect, the setting immersible, the heroine, a returning adoptive daughter of a policeman is now a detective herself. The ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I read this book over the weekend while on a mini vacation in northern Michigan. However, the vivid and unforgiving description of South Buffalo, NY made me feel like I actually spent my entire weekend there instead.

Welcome to South Buffalo

The premise of the book is that Absalom Kearny, adopted daughter of the legendary cop James Kearny, has returned to South Buffalo after a short career in Miami PD. We are introduced to her life just as she starts investigating a violent murder that occurred in a local church basement

Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Fighting the scum of the hardbitten, frozen streets of a Saab. Before selling the brand to General Motors who promptly, and possibly gleefully, drove it into the ground, the Swedish car manufacturer Saab made sturdy but offbeat vehicle beloved by women who used it to haul their NPR tote bags full of locally grown vegetables from the co-op. With the exception of Stephan Talty's protagonist Abby Carney, no one used them to chase criminals in the snow. With modest horsepower and no 4 w ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
BLACK IRISH. (2013). Stephan Talty. ***1/2.
I’m of two minds about this novel, a first from this author who has had several previous non-fiction books. It’s a cross between a thriller and a psychological suspense novel. It all takes place in Buffalo, NY – not a city many people know, other than usually driving through it to get to Niagara Falls. In Buffalo, there is, apparently, an Irish district known as The County. The Irish majority there keeps to themselves and imposes their own moral code on
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carie, Rajeev
Recommended to Anna by: npl
After a career as a journalist and writer of nonfiction, this is Stephan Talty's debut novel and what an intriguing story this is.
He introduces us to a specific community and a cast of characters that feel real. Talty paints a detailed picture which depicts an insular community within a city struggling to find its footing after the heyday of its industrial past. In addition to the murders and the ongoing investigation, we are treated to descriptive passages that paint a larger picture and set t
Katherine Coble
Talty writes gripping nonfiction. The best parts of this book were his recountings of the nonfiction aspects of the city of Buffalo and its significance to the Irish immigrants and the Irish cause of freedom.

The book suffers when it gets trapped into, and mired in, the Procedural Thriller Cliche of This Time It's Personal. I'll be honest. I read thrillers because it's like a cryptogram or word search in narrative form. I like solving the puzzles. I could quite honestly give zero rats' asses for
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This got off to a good start. Even though there are oodles of novels about serial killers, the plot was developing tension and going along nicely. Then the author goes off on a tangent and brings in an unlikely secret Irish clan. At this point the book starts going downhill. Sticking with the main theme would have been better. There are other lesser flaws. Too many situations repeat themselves. There are other ways of building drama besides having characters cuss and bang their hands on the near ...more
Amy Warrick
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was ok

When I read Dennis Lehane's fiction, set in gritty neighborhoods of working-class Boston, I feel intrigued - I admire the sense of belonging, tough as it is. Stephen Talty has created a Buffalo that I have neither interest nor admiration for - it's dark, cruel, and unremittingly cold. He seems to hate this place, and after reading 'Black Irish', I hate it too.

His lead detective is beautiful & conflicted. Her partner is loyal and believes in her. The community closes against her. Yadda yad
Robert Intriago
Not a bad book for a first try. The background to the story about the Irish in the Buffalo, NY area is very good and the decay of manufacturing in an industrial area is informative. The mystery is original but seems manufactured to fit the thread of the story. A couple of the clues spring out of nowhere when they could have been woven into the story with out giving away the story.
The book has a very exciting last 20%. It is also very well written and the dialogue is crisp.
Gliterary Girl (Page Managed by Sara)
Reviewed by Sara O'Connor for
4.5 out of 5 Stars

Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

Contains NO spoilers

THE GIST: A deep and gritty look at the Irish American community in Buffalo New York, set around several gruesome serial killings that kept me up at night reading under the light of the moon. This page-turner had me white knuckling my Kindle during some of the most gruesome murder scenes I have read in a while. My stomach literally twisting in knots with
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The sanctity of a local Buffalo, NY church is forever compromised when the maimed corpse of Jimmy Ryan is discovered in the basement. Tied to a chair, eyelids cut off as if he were made to look at something, the sight of Ryan's body sends a shock through the town. Author Stephan Talty describes the southern part of Buffalo, the County, as having a "small-town feeling". Its best days behind it, the County is a place where news travels fast and nothing stays secret for long.

Enter Absolam "Abbie" K
Stephan Talty has written plenty of nonfiction, but BLACK IRISH is his first stab at fiction. In this book, a Buffalo, New York police detective is trying to solve serial murders in what is left of the Irish community there. This book could easily be the beginning of a series, but I wouldn't want to continue with it.

Granted, BLACK IRISH deserves praise for being unputdownable at certain points. That's the mark of a good thriller.

But it also makes mistakes common to thrillers that fail for anyon
Sharon Chance
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a fast-paced, but unnervingly thrilling mystery, author Stephan Talty introduces his readers to a little-known group of Irish Americans living in Buffalo, New York in his debut fiction, “Black Irish.”

Buffalo’s South area is known as the “twenty-seventh county” (there are twenty-six counties in Ireland) or “the County,” for all of the Irish Americans who reside there, descendents of Irish immigrants of long ago. “The County” is a rough area which has deteriorated over time, but its residents
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, fresh, authentic crime thriller! I used to read a lot of these but then they all started to sound the same. I tired of authors trying to outdo one other with outlandishly gruesome psychotic murderers and gave up on the genre altogether for a while. In fact, I generally read only indie books these days, so sick am I of formulaic fiction. But I saw Black Irish listed at a temporary bargain price and took a chance.

The thing that sold me on it was that I am married into the Irish cop sce
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The County is the Irish section of Buffalo (so Irish that it resembles Ireland's 27th county) It is clannish in the extreme. Absalom Kearney is a police detective who grew up in the County from the time that she was a two-year-old adoptee. She's one of the Black Irish (pale skin, black hair, a bit of an outsider) after whom the book is titled. Her father, now retired and suffering from Alzheimer's, was once a mighty presence both on the police force and within Gaelic circles. Abbie fits into thi ...more
Shonna Froebel
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This mystery novel is set in Buffalo, but some of the plot takes place on the Canadian side of the Falls too. Absalom Kearney has come home to Buffalo to look after her father, the legendary cop John Kearney, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She has become a cop too, one every bit as good as her adoptive father. Kearney adopted her when she was just a toddler and even though she has tried to find out more about the mother who gave her up, she hasn't been able to discover anything except for th ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though I first cracked this book’s spine on St. Paddy’s day, this novel is not one to romanticize the Irish people or Irish-Americans, in particular. Talty’s impressive debut novel (he has a history in non-fiction) has a very authentic quality to it, and the Buffalo setting really has a realistic edge. For anyone who is familiar with the area (or with people from the area), landmarks (like Mighty Taco) will firmly root this in a gritty version of the city. It is a dark novel, with violence, a lo ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YA-Audlts
Shelves: first-reads
I am lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the author as a first read . Thank you so very much for allowing me to read your book.
This book is so very awesome it has you on the edge of your seat from the very first page. It opens at the church with the murder of Jimmy. Young homicide Det. Abbie is sent to investigate as she is county. ( Black Irish) She has hair of solid dark black . Abbie grew up there went to church at St Teresa's.Then before you know it more people are being murde
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Abbie Kearney grew up in Buffalo, NY, and now when she returns to join its police force, she still feels like the misfit she was treated as when she was growing up. She worked hard to overcome her childhood, including obtaining a degree from Harvard and a detective’s badge - but it doesn’t help.

To add insult to injury, there’s a serial killer loose in Buffalo and Abbie is assigned to find him. Unfortunately, every where she turns is a dead end.

This book was, by far, unnecessarily gruesome as if
Kasa Cotugno
With Black Irish Stephen Talty, a published author of nonfiction, has embarked on a very promising career as a writer of exceptional thrillers. Comparisons to Jo Nesbo are valid in tht the set pieces are spine shivering and grisly and that the setting is bone numbingly cold -- Buffalo in winter vs Oslo, brrrr. But the central character, Absalom Kearney, is not flawed to the degree that Nesbo's Harry Hole is. Her background bears closer relationship to the protagonists of, say, Denise Mina whose ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Black Irish 1 1 Sep 22, 2013 10:33AM  
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Stephan Talty is the New York Times bestselling author of six acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction, as well as the Abbie Kearney crime novels. Originally from Buffalo, he now lives outside New York City.

Talty began as a widely-published journalist who has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the author of t
More about Stephan Talty...

Other Books in the Series

Abbie Kearney (2 books)
  • Hangman (Abbie Kearney, #2)