Review of Kevin Dooley's novel

Kevin Dooley: The Angira Legacy And The Catalyst

A novel that's dangerous to start because its hard to put down

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective/True North Humanist Perspective
The Angira Legacy and The Catalyst
By Kevin Dooley
   Baico Books

388 pages, $22.95

As editor, I receive many books for review. Because of time and energy constraints, I reluctantly ask others to review them; reluctantly, because I’d selfishly prefer to read and review them myself.

This what I had in mind for Kevin Dooley’s novel The Angira Legacy And The Catalyst.

When Mr. Dooley’s latest literary achievement arrived I took it with me to my breakfast table thinking, at least I’ll have a look at it while I’m eating.

A major happy mistake, because then I couldn’t put it down, and a reviewer, unknowingly, somewhere, was denied the privilege of reading and reviewing this masterpiece.

However, still suffering from severe time constraints, I’m reaching to two learned minds who have reviewed the novel, and then to the author with a summary in his own words.

Here is what Frank M. Tierney, retired Professor, English Literature, University of Ottawa, had to say:

Imagine the bard of Irish history, and the bards of other cultures, standing beside a bonfire in the warm evening with the moon rising and with hundreds of anxious listeners awed by the bard’s stories.

Kevin Dooley is a storyteller in that tradition and in the tradition of the Irish Diaspora from pre-Christian Gaul to the island now called England and Scotland, and to the island now called Ireland, and countries beyond through the twentieth century to the present.

Kevin Dooley’s gift of story telling is that expressed by T.S. Elliot in The Wasteland and Robert Browning in Fra Lippo Lippi: “great literature is written from the soul,” and Kevin Dooley does so very successfully in The Angira Legacy And The Catalyst.

This novel is both universal in its subtle sub-theme ‘Dispora’ of the Celtic people and consistent with the scattering of many Peoples through the history of humanity. Meet the crafters and miners who are poor in money and objects but rich in character and community. They too, are faced with the difficulties of survival in their land, and of migration to new worlds and the struggles with fresh beginnings.

Patrick McKee is a part of the old world and the new world and is the dynamic protagonist: a Celtic mix of bold intelligence, emotion and charm. He is the modern Celtic faced with an obligation to the mysterious Rosalene McKee to produce monuments to her in Angira. In doing so he is embraced by unexpected events and complex people who refuse to allow the reader to turn off the light and put down the book. The bonfire rages and, the rich voice mesmerizes: you will be delighted with this book.

Kevin Dooley is an Irish bard.

Here is what Ruth Latta, author, journalist had to say in her review in Forever Young.

By Ruth Latta
Ottawa Author and Reviewer

Too often, the public assumes that older writers cannot draw upon their imaginations, but can write memoirs only. That stereotype is dispelled by Ottawa author Kevin Dooley's latest work of fiction. The Irish-born author, formerly a machinist and marine engineer, has just published The Angira Legacy and The Catalyst (Ottawa, Baico, 2010, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-926596-80-8) These novellas, published in one book, are the last two parts of his Angira Trilogy. These are works of speculative fiction reminiscent of the Da Vinci Code in that they show international machinations affecting the lives of ordinary individuals.

Dooley's first work of fiction was By the Hob (2005). The Other Man (2007), the first book in the Angira Trilogy, centred on two main characters. Colm Dunne, a returned soldier in rehabilitation for a head injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, attends a military dinner and notices a picture on the wall of a man who looks like him. This man was Marteen Reade, an Irish-Canadian veteran of North American frontier wars, the Boer War, and the First World War. The manuscript Reade left behind recounted his experiences and his knowledge of the larger elements at the root of these wars.

Many of us watch the news and speculate as to which countries and economic systems will rise to world power. In The Angira Legacy, Dooley depicts a future world in which the United States of America has lost its supremacy. The ascendant power is the USE, the "United States of Europe", a political as well as economic union in which the former imperial power, "Britannia", plays a key role. "Kanata", a northern country in North America acts as go-between with regard to the USA and the USE. The USE needs a new safe banking haven and a secret military base/strategic centre.

As The Angira Legacy begins, a Montrealer, Patrick McKee, newly back from the Caribbean, inherits a legacy from his great grandmother on the completion of his Ph.D. in Psychology, specializing in post traumatic stress disorder. The late Rosaleen McKee, a business woman who came of age during the Great War, left a letter asking the descendant who fulfilled the terms of her will to erect a memorial to her and to Patrick and Marteen Reade on Angira, an island off the coast of "Hibernia."

Angira, rich in mineral resources, has underground tunnels. Most of its inhabitants adhere to a woman-centred secret earth religion. Its distinctive culture and gene pool have earned it the status of a world heritage site. In a novel full of troubled, driven, duplicitous characters, the people who are easiest to warm to are the inhabitants of Angira. But a fabulously wealthy man from "Britannia", who travels around in his own ship with secret rooms, is bent on getting Angira's heritage status removed and using the island for his own purposes.

Colm Dunne, drawn to "Hibernia" in the hope of reuniting with his wife and children, unites with Patrick McKee and others in the struggle to control Angira's future. In the process he learns the connection between Marteen Reade and himself. Early on, readers may think that McKee was in the Caribbean for a holiday, and that Reuben, whom he met there, is just a friend, but it is not that simple.

The Catalyst, the third part of this futuristic volume, is a first person narrative which flows well. A ship's purser working for a "Britannia" based shipping line takes us to South Africa during the apartheid era and eventually links with the Angira plot.

Kevin Dooley's biography should inspire budding writers of any age. His formal education ended at age 15. His career as a marine engineer, while it took him all over the world and provided him with a wealth of experience, was nevertheless technical in nature, quite different from the craft of writing. Dooley's personal story shows that extensive reading, a gift for language, and determination can produce a writer.

And here below, The Bard speaks in his own words

In these the second and third books of The Angira Trilogy we meet the people of the Angirish Diaspora. Angira is a fictional but recognizable Celtic island. Home to crofters and miners, rough traditional and poor on the surface, rich, complex and ancient to those who know her.

Countless working men and women have left Angira and live all over the world, in search of new lives. They often find life is hard, harsh, and more complicated than they had bargained for. Too often their lives are caught up in stories bigger than they are, over which they have no control. Power struggles great and small, stories and legacies generations-long, suffering on a soul level yet shared by all of Angirish blood, mark their lives forever.

Enter charismatic, passionate characters such as Patrick McKee, protagonist of the second book, The Angira Legacy. A task is given him as part of his inheritance from the mysterious Rosaleen McKee, to see memorials put up on the island, which seems simple enough until Patrick is drawn into the complex web of island life and its myriad connections, economic and political, to the modern world.

The setting is recognizable yet politically different from our own world. We begin to see clearly the moral bankruptcy of the rich and, in opposition to it, the power of those who might seem powerless.

 The stories deal in such contradictions and fashion them into tight, recurring Celtic knots, which draw the reader in to weave and reweave.

In the third and final book, The Catalyst, we meet the catalyst himself: a never named narrator in the first person. He is an orphan who travels the world, driven to use a charismatic power he recognizes but cannot control. Wherever he goes — Australia, prison, Africa, the sea, French Canada — he is the relentless epicenter of both local and world events. Both stories take the reader around the world
 with the people of the Celtic Diaspora and deep into their lives and struggles.

388 pages paperback


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