Waiting for the Healer by Eamonn Sweeney

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Waiting for the Healer

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In WAITING FOR THE HEALER, Paul Kelly takes a holiday from the pub he manages in London to visit his home in Rathbawn, Ireland, for the funeral of his murdered brother Johnny. When he gets there, with his four-year-old daughter Kaya, he finds that Rathbawn has changed both a lot, and not at all, and that no one knows who killed his brother. Throughout the trip, he is haunted by the memory of his late wife, Kaya’s mother.

At first, the stay in Rathbawn is taken up with visits to relations, preparations for the funeral, and hours at the pub to help the stress. Then certain visits to neighbors get Paul very curious about who killed Johnny, and why. When there is another murder, a local named Bumper, a brother of the newly killed man, encourages Paul to help him find the man he thinks killed both of their brothers. The ensuing investigation gets the two deep into local histories, Irish politics, and muddy family feuds, and Paul finds himself in a world he had forgotten. And the mystery of the murder adds great tension to an already taut and troubled tale.

Eamonn Sweeney tells this tale in the first person, from Paul’s point of view. He gets a lot from starting the narration with Paul’s nonchalant, foggy from alcohol, cool attitude, and then letting readers go with Paul into things that truly scare him, that wake him up to his love for his daughter, and remind him of his deep and unexpected love of being alive. The novel is extraordinarily rich with Irish imagery and language, and a stunningly immediate sense of the small village back home.