reviewed by Cy Wyss
Grace and Disgrace is the story of Jack Tuohay, an Inspector with the Royal Irish Constabulary around the turn of the century (early 1900s). Tuohay comes to Boston following the trail of a missing diamond and proceeds to follow a path of murder and mayhem. Tuohay’s friends Eliza and John help him, as does a shadowy Inspector in the Boston Police named Frost. The web of intrigue involves some higher ups in the Boston Catholic church as well as potential police wrongdoings. Along the way, Tuohay and friends unravel some diabolical codes and try to piece together clues before the murderer gets them too.
Aside from the odd spate of overly purple prose, Milhomme’s writing is smooth, easy to read, and impeccably edited. What is really compelling about the book, though, is the plot and characters. Once I got about a third of the way through I found I couldn’t put Grace and Disgrace down. Milhomme’s historical Boston is rich and inviting, and the main characters are well-rounded and unique, yet familiar, like old friends. The mystery is enriched by the codes that need to be unraveled, an area that Milhomme has obviously studied well. Although in retrospect I feel I could have solved the mystery, the answer came as a surprise to me, which happens in a well-written yarn. Great book, definitely recommended reading.