Tiernan's Wake


Fiction - Historical - Personage
370 Pages
Reviewed on 12/04/2017
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

I am a lawyer and genealogist who lives near Boston, Massachusetts, with my wife Dyan, an artist. I started writing in 2015, in large part to keep a promise I made to an inspirational high school English teacher -- in 1964! Better late than never.
I grew up in Rhode Island, and graduated Georgetown University and Boston University Law School.
My short stories have won national and international awards, but they were a "warmup" for Tiernan's Wake, my first novel. A sequel is nearly finished.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite

In this fast paced, ever-broadening story of Michael Tiernan and his Irish ancestors by Richard T. Rook, the past and present come together in amazing ways. Tiernan’s Wake represents the rebirth of American attorney Michael Tiernan after the surprise involvement of Aedan Burns, a wealthy Irish historian, who needs some information from Michael’s personal genealogy research to complete his own investigation into Grace O’Malley, pirate queen of Ireland in the 1500s. Michael takes time from the law practice he no longer finds fulfilling and delves into the mystery with his artist wife, Sara, as an invaluable aide.

Tiernan’s Wake takes you back and forth from Boston to Ireland while plenty of research is underway. In the meantime, Michael’s law partner has a serious health scare and the experience brings Michael, Glenn and their long-time office manager closer together in appreciation of what life has to offer. This openness, along with the renewal of the loving relationship between Michael and Sara as well as other unexpected family connections, provides heartfelt present day emotion to counterbalance the inferred losses and missed opportunities of the past.

Exciting and fun to read! I hope there is more to come with the team of Tiernan and Tiernan as star players! Well written and highly imaginative, Tiernan’s Wake offers a wonderful historical mystery set against the growth and self-realization of a group of people thrown together by something more than chance, people who complement one another and develop deep and rewarding relationships. What you might take to be the dusty characters of years gone by come alive with amazing detail while some modern players turn out to be one-dimensional through their narrow-mindedness. Art, cryptology, the European history of the Elizabethan and Nazi eras, and family secrets all come together enjoyably in this fascinating book by Richard T. Rook.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Richard T. Rook’s Tiernan’s Wake is not your ordinary piece of fiction. Michael Tiernan is a burnt out Boston lawyer obsessed with his Irish ancestry. He would “rather spend time with the dead ancestors than most living people.” Michael receives a mysterious envelope sealed with a hand-drawn red shamrock. Inside the package are two envelopes. Out of curiosity, Michael opens the first letter and begins to read. The letter is from an Irish gentleman named Aedan Burns. Mr. Burns knows a great deal about Michael, which is both intimidating and intriguing. Michael immediately sends an email reply to the mysterious Aedan Burns. There is a puzzle that can only be solved by the two of them working together. Opening the second letter, Michael realizes his life is about to be changed forever. The game is afoot, a game of cat and mouse!

“Life gets weird.” In the case of Tiernan’s Wake, life gets weird, then a whole lot weirder! Richard T. Rook’s bizarre tale is full of Irish folklore, euphemisms and traditions. The narrative has a unique blend of eloquent, thought provoking and amusing one-liners. My favorite is: “If the past starts to overtake you... turn around quickly and give it a hard kick in the privates.” The characterization is decisively written and, whether living or dead, each character has unique attributes that give meaning to the story. The plot is perplexing, humorous and challenging. Reality mixed with surrealistic situations. The past, at times, overwhelms the present. Life, death and the “after” life all influence the plot action. The plot is a revolving door of ins and outs; one moment you are in the know, the next you are shaking your head in bewilderment. Upon reading the conclusion, I agree with the statement written early in the story: “We Irish have some trouble sorting truth from fiction.” Tiernan’s Wake proves that strange beginnings lead to even stranger endings.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Although Richard T. Rook’s novel Tiernan’s Wake might best be categorized as academic fiction (The Da Vinci Code without the thrills and spills,) it does include pirates, royalty, hidden treasure, and romance. And if this book does not make the heart pound with intense crises and melodramatic tension, for the intelligent pursuer of historical drama and mystery it does provide a central puzzle to tantalize the mind, a genealogical enigma to decode, and a historical conundrum to unfold – plus the pirates and the treasure. Not to mention a cast of highly endearing characters possessing their own trove of highly sardonic Irish humor.

Adding to the uniqueness of the plot created by Richard T. Rook to fuel his fascinating, contemporary attempts at demystifying the past, the pirate in question is Irish and female – one Grace O’Malley, and a 17th century contemporary of England’s Queen Elizabeth, a personal friend and possible co-conspirator in shaping Irish history. This pirate, Grace, and her friends and cronies are ancestors of the modern investigators now pursuing their own genealogical pasts while also attempting to unravel the mystery of the dread pirate’s missing sole portrait, and perhaps her stash of gold as well. With the few and obscure clues surviving unto present day, Aedan Burns and Michael Tiernan – with their own valiant cohorts beside them – persevere in a highly intriguing and competitive quest to shed light on the plight and purpose of a decidedly unique and deadly character in Irish history. Their academic quest makes for one greatly entertaining story.