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.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Big Man

R.J. McCarthy Why did I love 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 William McIlvanney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

AS SEEN IN THE BIG MAN STARRING LIAM NEESON

The big man is Dan Scoular, a legend of physical prowess in a decaying Ayrshire mining community. When a bare-knuckle fight offers both money and a purpose, he finds it turns into a monumental struggle to keep his heritage and integrity intact.


Book cover of Shane

R.J. McCarthy Why did I love 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.

By Jack Schaefer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'If you read only one western in your life, this is the one' Roland Smith, author of Peak

He rode into our valley in the summer of 1889, a slim man, dressed in black. 'Call me Shane,' he said. He never told us more. There was a deadly calm in the valley that summer, a slow, climbing tension that seemed to focus on Shane.

Seen through the eyes of a young boy, Bob Starrett, SHANE is the classic story of a lone stranger. At first sight, the boy realises there is something unusual about the approaching man, but as Bob…


Book cover of Heaven's Prisoners

R.J. McCarthy Why did I love 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.

By James Lee Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heaven's Prisoners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The second Dave Robicheaux novel from the award-winning crime writer.

Dave Robicheaux is trying to put a life of violence and crime behind him, leaving homicide to run a boat-rental business in Louisiana's bayou country. But one day while fishing in the Gulf with his wife Annie, he witnesses an event that will change his life forever.

A small two-engine plane suddenly crashes into the sea and Robicheaux dives down to the wreckage to find four bodies and one survivor; a little girl miraculously trapped in a pocket of air. When the authorities insist only three bodies were recovered from…


Book cover of Drama City

R.J. McCarthy Why did I love 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.

By George Pelecanos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drama City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lorenzo Brown loves his work. In his job as an officer for the Humane Society, he cruises the city streets, looking for dogs that are being mistreated - underfed, unclean, trained to kill. He takes pride in making their lives better. And that pride helps Lorenzo resist the pull of easier money doing the kind of work that got him a recent prison bid.

Rachel Lopez loves her work, too. By day she is a parole officer, helping people - Lorenzo Brown among them - along a path to responsibility and advancement. At night she heads for the city's hotel…


Book cover of The Black Echo

R.J. McCarthy Why did I love 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.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Black Echo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


An LAPD homicide detective must choose between justice and vengeance as he teams up with the FBI in this "thrilling" novel filled with mystery and adventure (New York Times Book Review).

For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal . . . because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys…


You might also like...

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Deep Roots

Sung J. Woo Author Of Deep Roots

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Tennis fan Cinephile Gamer

Sung's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

After solving her first case, private eye Siobhan O’Brien is hired by Phillip Ahn, an octogenarian billionaire with his own personal island in the Pacific Northwest. Ahn, a genius in artificial intelligence, swears that Duke, his youngest child and only son, is an impostor. Is Ahn crazy, or is Duke really someone else? As Siobhan attempts to arrive at the truth, her biggest challenge will be dealing with Ahn’s family, who all live under the same gilded roof: his current wife, his two ex-wives, and their awful, privileged children.

What is the real reason that Siobhan was brought to this isolated estate? If she can keep her head – literally and figuratively – she’ll learn that family secrets have some very deep roots.

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

What is this book about?

After solving her first case, Siobhan O’Brien faces her biggest challenge yet – Thanksgiving!  With her lawyer boyfriend Craig in tow, Siobhan travels to Minneapolis to endure small talk with the extended O’Brien clan and chow down on some seriously delicious turkey and dressing.  Everything’s swell until her sister-in-law Gwen tells her about her brother Sven's frequent late-night meetings with his co-workers.  Since Siobhan’s next case is just a ferry ride from their house in Washington state, she asks for Siobhan’s help.
Big sister is happy to oblige, though she’s got her hands full.  Hired by Phillip Ahn, a Korean…


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