Tiernan's Wake Book Review

Tiernan’s Wake by Richard T. Rook Book Review

Tiernan’s Wake, by multi-award winning author Richard T. Rook, is scheduled to be published in early 2018. This light contemporary mystery follows two genealogists, one from Boston and the other from Ireland, who combine forces to unravel the past in order to solve the mystery of a missing painting. Did I mention pirates? Audio Arcadia | 2018 | Audio & eBook

Michael Tiernan is a successful but burned-out attorney in Boston. He’s been devoting more and more time to his passion of genealogy, collecting documents on his family’s Irish lineage. He’s not a broken man but he is on the cusp of rethinking his life. The floor drops from beneath him when his best friend and fellow attorney Glenn is diagnosed with a possibly inoperable tumor. On the same day of this distressing news, a mysterious package arrives bearing a curious red shamrock on the outside.

The package, containing thousands of dollars and an inviting note, is from Aedan Burns, an old historian in Ireland. Michael had come to Aedan’s attention as a fellow genealogist and one who might have a large amount of documentation on a very particular subject, a particular lineage Aedan is studying. Aedan asks Michael to visit, along with Michael’s wife, to help take part in a historical mystery. They would only have to come to Ireland to hear him out, no strings attached. They do and accept his offer of partnership. With the amount of money Aedan was offering, they couldn’t turn it down even if they wouldn’t be of much help. And Michael begins by contributing his own set of documents.

The mystery has to do with a notorious female pirate of Ireland: Grace O’Malley, a red-headed terror on the high seas. Aedan claims to be a descendant and the information Michael has on a certain lineage could lead to a rumored painting of Grace, one that has never been recovered nor even seen. Accepting nearly half a million for a partnership, Michael and his wife Sara begin to look for clues on missing relations, changed names, and secrets hidden.

While Michael digs deep and makes exciting discoveries, there is more than just the mystery of the pirate that he seeks. Aedan himself is an enigma and Michael is certain there is a mystery to be solved involving Aedan and his perplexing decision to invite Michael and his wife along on his journey. Why was Michael chosen? Couldn’t Aedan Burns, the great historian, have found out the same information he had compiled over the years? Being a problem solver and natural investigator, he comes up with the answer on his own.

Along the journey, Michael and others grapple with the Glenn’s deteriorating condition, Sherlock Holmes and French pirate Jean de Clisson are summoned from beyond the grave, World War II Codebreakers send a message to the future through intriguing photos, long-lost relatives are discovered, and a lesson in art history saves the day. Throughout it all, Irish spirituality, lore, and legend permeate as the fluid backbone of the story, seeping through the pages with a greenish hue (self imagined). And if the title (and locale) instantly reminds you of Finnegans Wake, you’d be right in expecting a reference or two.

Tiernan’s Wake is more than just a genealogical mystery. There are five people who are at a crossroads in life: Michael who is burned out and fearing a life without Glenn, Glenn who may be at the end of his life with nothing to show for it, Sara (Michael’s wife) has a dark secret, Anna (Michael and Glenn’s long-time secretary) has a hidden past with deep scars that she’s refused to face, and Aedan (the mysterious benefactor) sees longingly how his life could have been. Both the genealogy project and Glenn’s brush with death force our main players to deal with their issues in the most human way possible: with each other.

High-brow and sophisticated, Tiernan’s Wake is an intelligent yet lighthearted mystery with the added appeal of academia. In the same vein of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series, the reader goes on a historical adventure while remaining grounded in the present through history lessons and captivating tidbits of information on theology, symbology, art, and more.  Make sure to keep an eye out for this one in 2018!

Did I mention pirates?



Tiernan’s Wake
by Richard T. Rook


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Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads. Aside from her love of good books, she is a professional website developer, content editor, and SEO expert. You can visit her web design and development site at RebeccaSkane.com.


  • The Candid Cover YA book blogg

    This book sounds like one that I would really enjoy. There is something about Ireland that just intrigues me so much. Throw in some pirates and man I am super excited! I will definitely be adding this one to my TBR. 🙂

    • I’ve only visited once but my heart remains in Ireland. It is an exceptionally beautiful place steeped in history!

  • orangutanlibrarian

    Wow this sounds really intriguing! I love that it has pirates in it as well. Great review!

  • Finnegans Wake immediately came to mind when I saw the title, so I’m glad to hear there are a few references to it. I hadn’t heard of this book before but it does sound very interesting. I’m intrigued that it has pirates too. Great review!

    • The pirates are a research point but there are no flashbacks or anything like that – it remains grounded in present time. But the flights of fancy thinking about this pirate are loads of fun.

  • I haven’t heard of this, but I do love books with pirates in them and I really have not read enough lately (or ever)!! Great review 🙂

    • I recently read another book about a red-headed she-pirate so I was pleasantly amused to find this gem!

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