The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Many Deaths of the Firefly by Thomas Mullen is an amazing book. It is one of those rare titles where everything works. Starting with the outside, it has a deep red jacket with a fedora clad silhouette walking towards the reader its trench coat flapping slightly. It has an intriguing title that makes you want to pick it up, and it is a hefty in size. The book is about a pair of Dillinger-esque bank robbers called the Firefly Brothers. As you read Mullen’s beautiful prose you settle into a non-chronological account of two men caught up in their own story. For this book is very much about story – the stories in the newspapers, the stories they tell each other (and the ones they don’t), the history and mythology of the era, and even the stories they can’t remember.

“…people need to tell their stories to place themselves somewhere solid in this great swirl…” – Mullen

Jason is the dapper one, as charmed as he is charming. He didn’t want any part of his father’s store and the two strong men butted heads. So, Jason took off to become a driver for a bootlegging operation. Sure it was illegal, but wasn’t Prohibition the real crime, seemed to be the thought process, besides he like the fast cars and the good clothes. Two jail stints and his father’s death, which haunts the book, escalated him bootlegger to bank robber. He honestly hadn’t wanted to get his brothers involved in what he did, but eventually he saw no choice, especially when it came to Wit.

Wit, the youngest Fireson, is rougher around the edges then his brother and not nearly so vain. He is on the path of anger fueled self-destruction and Jason figures if he takes him along then at least he can attempt damage control. Together they have adventures galore and the next big score is always right around the corner. Jason tries not to think of the killing as his fault –self defense or an over zealous conspirator. He tries to reject the newspapers myth making and see himself as level-headed.

But, little of this do you find out right away. See, Jason and his brother Wit are introduced to us waking up on cold metal slabs in a police morgue. They’d been killed and have the bullet holes to prove it. They know who they are, but not how they got there. The book bounces around in time telling you stories from various points of view. Some are from past, many are from the present and they all stitch themselves together nicely. Conjuring as if by magic, what it meant to live in that era, why people mythologies some criminals, and how these men found themselves in that life, even if they are not sure why they are alive.

“She wanted to breathe the brothers back into life with their stories.” — Mullen

Books like this one enthrall me. I listened to this one audio (purchased from Audible.com) even though I love the physical book. The audio production is superb. It is read by William Dufris whose voice I remembered from listening to a Richard K. Morgan novel a while back. He really breathes life into all the characters. The author talks about the phoneme of someone speech or there geographically dialect and Dufris keeps pace with it all. In the end The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is a wonderful historical fiction that I’m sure my co-workers will get tired of me raving about. It is the kind of wonderful that makes me afraid that any clumsiness in my review will turn somebody off to it, yet I can’t just leave it at, “A Must Read!”

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 22)

Read:

Short story called His Soul Inspiration by Dorlana Vann, published in this quarter’s Enchanted Conversation.

I finally finished The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen. — I loved this. I will write a longer review later, but this is most likely the best thing I’ve “read” (listen to the audio I purchased from Audible.com) so far this year.

Did Not Finish: The Brontes Went to Woolworth by Rachel Furgerson — I hate to not finish a book, but I just can’t get a handle on this one. I find myself rereading sentence over and over trying to figure out if the person their talking about is real or imaginary or a doll. I’ll leave my bookmark in it if I change my mind, but for now I’m done.

Reading:

Bone Dance (book 2 in Fugue Macabre series) by C. J. Parker — Charlotte is a friend of mine and I very much enjoyed book one in the series, Ghost Dance.

The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant #3) by Derek Landy

In the Mail:

I got the new  THE SPARK: Cirque du Soleil from Book Mooch.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

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Quotes

*

“Pale skin that would have made Snow White blanch with envy.” — Andrea Dale, “The Broken Fiddle” found in Alison’s Wonderland edited by Alison Tyler.

**

“His voice, the very sound of rolling eyes.” — Thomas Mullen, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

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“She wanted to breathe the brothers back into life with their stories.” — Thomas Mullen, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

**

What I’m Reading This Week (June 14)

Read:

The Prince of Frogs by Annaliese Evans — I liked this one and while I was looking forward to the next book, I realized I’d read Book Two first. My review is here.

Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruise (audio) — Classic Cruise, fun and funny with hi-jinks and a dog.

Alison’s Wonderland edited by Alison Tyler — was wonderful. My review is here.

The Picture Books —

Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile — a very funny children’s picture book which my best friend checked out from the library for her preschool class and insisted I read. It was awesome!

The Wishing Table by Brothers Grimm and illustrated by Eve Tharlet — I picked this one because this story was the basis of one of the stories in Alison’s Wonderland and I couldn’t quite remember the original. I got to the library where I was teaching early and started flipping through their fairy tale collection.

I picked up these others as well. The Bremen Town Musicians retold Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Janet Stevens — picked because I Love Janet Stevens illustrations and Babushka retold and illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak.

Reading:

The Brontes Went to Woolworths  by Rachel Fergurson — I’m only two chapter into this one, I can’t discern a plot and I’m waiting for the author to take a breath.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen — I’m really enjoying this audio book. It is LONG so I’ll be at it a while longer.

Wish List:

Night’s Rose by Annaliese Evans (on order)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (on order)


In the Mail:

Ondine by Ebony McKenna via The Book Depository

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

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What I’m Reading This Week (June 7th)

What did I read this week? A little of this and a little of that, to be honest. I didn’t finish anything. I did teach my very first (and successful) class on Telling Family Stories at the Abita Springs Branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library.  I’ve three classes this week, too!

Reading:

Everything I was reading last week, unfortunately.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen
The Prince of Frogs by Annaliese Evans
Alison’s Wonderland edited by Alison Tyler
Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art) by Harold Koda, Andrew Bolton, and Mimi Hellman

From the Internet:

I ran across this article, “What Comes Next After Steampunk and Zombies?”, on I09 via a tweet by author O.M. Grey. This is a really good article on a topic we often bandy-about at work.

Quotes:

turns-of-phrase from the various things I’ve started or have run across.

“…which gave me a fresh perspective on what happens when people read my stories – the alchemical process whereby words on a page become living flesh and blood in readers’ minds.” — Harper Fox talking about the cover art for her upcoming novel via Carina Press.

“I generally like my crime violent, my heiresses leggy, and my detectives drunk…” — John Green recommending Lulu Dark.

“Why fables and rhymes and stories of years gone by? Because the familiar cadence of these magical tales cling to us like the fabric of dreams.” — Alison Tyler

“Centuries never start or end on time, and any serious reader of English literature can tell another that the eighteenth ended in 1798, when Wordsworth and Coleridge detonated the Lyrical Ballads, thereby blowing up the orderly colonnade of Augustan oaks and clearing the field for the Romantic era’s giddy booms.” — Thomas Mallon, Stolen Words

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

What I’m Reading This Week (May 31)

Read:

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett (audio) — this was good and I love all the stories from book dealers. Towards the end of the book I wished for a little more about the bookdealer/detective she introduced us too, and realize the thief’s story was getting a little repetitive.

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs — Another excellent Mercy Thompson read. I really like her characters and enjoy spending time with them. I was about half way into the book when I realized that I didn’t really know what the mystery was, but it evolved into something I wasn’t expecting. The timing of this book felt compressed, I feel like I should go back and see how many days it covered.

The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier and illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer — I had really high hopes for this book after the first few pages, but sadly I felt the premise got old as you read on; there were still a few things that made me smile. I think that this field guide to little known princesses is one of those book better dipped into at random rather than read from cover to cover like I did. The art work on the other hand is worth the price of admission. I love Dautremer’s use of color. If you haven’t seen this book yet, you should at least take a look at it.

Shermit’s Adventure to Sprinkle Island by Katherine Borgatti — this is a simple children’s picture book with nice, bright and cheery illustrations about a hermit crab and shrimp who find a treasure map to donuts. The author dropped this off at work for us to take a look at. I believe she is self-published and is presenting the story to local schools.

Reading:

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen (audio) — the moment the narrator opened his mouth, I knew I’d heard him before. William Dufris is the narrator of Woken Furies by Richard Morgan. I like his voice and it worked well with the hard-boiled world in Morgan’s book and it will probably work well in Mullen’s. The problem is that Firefly Brothers’ opening feels like a scene plucked for Woken Furies or any of the other titles in Morgan’s Takesi Kovacs series. I have to remind myself that this isn’t Kovacs talking but Jason. I have to remind myself that this isn’t some far off distant planet but the American Mid-West circa the 30’s. I am confidant once I am further into the book I will be more firmly grounded in the world of the Firefly Brothers.

The Prince of Frogs by Annaliese Evans – I purchased this one because the cover was so strikingly different for all the romance novels surrounding it, the couple were already married, and it seemed to have ties to fairy tales. It’s been on my TBR shelf a while. I hope it’s good.

–Still reading Alison’s Wonderland edited by Alison Tyler, Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art) by Harold Koda, Andrew Bolton, and Mimi Hellman (I would love to see this ballet based on the original Dangerous Liaisons.), and Climbing Your Family Tree by Ira Wolfman–

Wish List:

I found Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop by Kirstan Hawkins on Leeswammes’s Blog, but I haven’t been able to spot a U.S. edition.

Sur La Lune mentioned The Strange Case of the Composer and the Judge that seems intriguing. Another title that’s released abroad, but this one has a U.S. edition arriving in July.

Arrived in Mail:

Remembrance by Theresa Breslin and Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone both via Book Mooch

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is organized by Sheila over at Book Journey. Be sure to stop by her site and read the great blogs of the other participates.

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