The best books to experience The Quiet Man Effect

Who am I?

I'm not interested in make-believe superheroes. Just as I write stories I have to believe could happen, my favorite novels must have a credible protagonist. Regardless of flaws and failings, he also must have a moral compass, an inclination to do right or, at least, to do something right. The protagonist represents the never-ending battle within to redeem ourselves. In that, he does what he can with what he has. I would term this particular genre The Quiet Man Effect relative to a 1952 movie about an American boxer who returns to his Irish roots to heal after killing a man in the ring.

I wrote...

Quarry Steps to: A Tony Quarry Carolina Mystery

By R.J. McCarthy,

Book cover of Quarry Steps to: A Tony Quarry Carolina Mystery

What is my book about?

Protecting a retired teacher from teenage vandals, Quarry runs afoul of the embittered residents of an economically depressed North Carolina hamlet. They’re held in check by Tink Sputter with his Old Testament sense of justice. Sputter’s efforts are unraveled by the vengeful arsonist, Fireman Lowbridge. Following several violent encounters with Quarry, Sputter demands satisfaction in the form of a duel. Quarry is to fight Country Blackstrop, a bullying behemoth. Sputter will regard the outcome as Divine judgment. But even as Quarry struggles toward his fateful decision, Lowbridge nurses his own version of justice.

The books I picked & why

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The Big Man

By William McIlvanney,

Book cover of The Big Man

Why this book?

Set in a Scottish town blighted by an economic downturn, Dan Scoular, desperate for money to support his family, is persuaded to engage in an illegal, bare-knuckle fight. Though the fight lies at the core of the story, the novel is about the importance of family and community as well as the threat posed by outside criminal elements fomenting a betting opportunity. As I recall, the novel has an affecting, hopeful ending as the community quietly responds to Scoular’s plight.


By Jack Schaefer,

Book cover of Shane

Why this book?

Set in 1889 Wyoming Territory, though technically a Western novel, Shane is a classic story of conflict between the settled and newcomers. Told through the eyes of a young boy as his farming family is being harassed by a bullying cattleman demanding grazing rights on their land, a stranger – Shane – riding through their valley, decides to help. I recall Shane as somewhat of a lost soul, a gunman recognizing his time is coming to an end, who finds respite and purpose, even if temporary, in standing up for the family.

Heaven's Prisoners

By James Lee Burke,

Book cover of Heaven's Prisoners

Why this book?

The setting is 1988 bayou Louisiana. The protagonist, detective Dave Robicheaux, is an alcoholic who never stops battling to contain his flaws. After leaving the New Orleans Police Department, Robicheaux and his wife have opened a fishing-guide business. The plot is set in motion when he rescues a little girl after a plane crash that sets him on a collision course with the criminally cruel Bubba Rocque. Dimensional characters around Robicheaux add to the story like tesserae to a mosaic, none more than best friend, Clete Purcell.

Drama City

By George P. Pelecanos,

Book cover of Drama City

Why this book?

Washington, D.C. is the author’s turf and he knows the district with GPS certainty. Lorenzo Brown, an African-American ex-con with a moral code, is redeemed by his love for animals. His post-release job is with an animal rescue organization. The novel’s conflict is basic as Brown is faced with environmental forces that attempt to lure him back to the criminal life, even as he struggles to resist them. Adding superbly to the flow of the story is Pelecanos’s mastery of street argot, his love of music and cars serving as a backdrop.

The Black Echo

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Black Echo

Why this book?

Bosch believes, “Everyone counts or no one counts,” crucial in understanding how he manages to resist cynicism as a Los Angeles police detective. The author’s love of procedural aspects of policing can almost overwhelm at times, yet it’s the attention to detail that is necessary if Bosch is to remain faithful to his personal code. Bosch is a man of no more than average size. Beyond badge and gun, his greatest weapon is his tenacity in dedication to his mandate. In Bosch, anyone can find a piece of what he or she might aspire to.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in private investigators, Wyoming, and Scotland?

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