Cover image for Hours of gladness
Hours of gladness
Fleming, Thomas J.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tom Doherty Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
304 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Dick OGorman and Billy Kilroy choose Paradise Beach, New Jersey, as the ideal place to smuggle ashore Cuban missiles for the Irish Republican Army, no one realizes the violent upheaval into which the community will soon be thrown. It is 1984. Irish Americans, preoccupied by a loss of political power in the cities, have little sympathy for Ireland and the IRA. This is especially true of Patrolman Mick ODay, an ex-Marine sergeant haunted by moral failure in Vietnam. The final element in this combustible mix is a British secret agent disguised as a priest who ignites a physical and spiritual explosion that tears the community apart at its very seams.

Author Notes

Thomas James Fleming was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on July 5, 1927. During World War II, he served on the cruiser Topeka. He graduated from Fordham University in 1950. He worked as a reporter for The Herald-Statesman in Yonkers and as the executive editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. In 1958, he was asked to write an article for Cosmopolitan about the Battle of Bunker Hill. This assignment led to his writing his first non-fiction book Now We Are Enemies.

He wrote almost 50 fiction and non-fiction books during his lifetime. His novels include All Good Men, The Officers' Wives, and Dreams of Glory. His non-fiction book included Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America; The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers; The Great Divide: The Conflict Between Washington and Jefferson That Defined a Nation; and The Strategy of Victory: How General George Washington Won the American Revolution. In 2005, he wrote a memoir entitled Mysteries of My Father. He died on July 23, 2017 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A range of appropriately tormented souls is introduced in this combustible Irish American saga. At the heart of this mournful tale is Mick O'Day, a bitter Vietnam veteran tortured by the sins of his past. Seeking to escape his inner demons, Mick returns to Paradise Beach, New Jersey, joining the police force commanded by a corrupt uncle determined to reestablish the family's lost fortune. When Mick's entire extended clan becomes caught in a web of deceit and intrigue involving the Mafia, the IRA, a shipment of cocaine, and a cache of sophisticated weapons, he seizes the opportunity to make restitution for betraying his unit in Vietnam. The tension mounts at an almost unbearable rate, exploding into a physically and emotionally violent climax. Fleming skillfully interweaves the strands of several parallel plots into a stunning multilayered thriller. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Irish struggle for independence moves onto American soil in Fleming's (The Wages of Fame) latest novel, which posits the existence of an IRA cell that crosses the Atlantic to infiltrate Paradise Beach, a sleepy Jersey Shore town, in the mid 1980s. From their temporary terrorist headquarters, Dick O'Gorman and Billy Kilroy plan to smuggle in missiles from Cuba to use against the Brits. Beleaguered patrolman Mick O'Day tries to keep order in the small town, but the IRA subterfuge quickly throws the community into turmoil, testing the loyalties of the Irish-Americans who have lived there for years, and angering the Mafia segment that becomes involved in the arms transaction. Chaos is unleashed when the million dollars allocated for the weapon is stolen, with the mistrust between the various factions spurred on by a British spy posing as an Irish priest. O'Day's attempts to keep the situation under control are hindered by his relationship with a Vietnamese refugee living in Paradise Beach, a woman who was his lover during the Vietnam War and whose betrayal resulted in the deaths of many of O'Day's Marine comrades. The search for the stolen money drives the plot, and there's some effective writing here, but Fleming can't seem to decide whether he wants his book to be a political thriller, the story of an emotionally damaged Irish cop or the tale of a small seaside community being torn apart by change. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Fleming, a best-selling author and PBS host for a miniseries about the Irish in the United States, sets his new novel in 1984 in a small New Jersey town where Irish Americans control things. A Vietnam War vet, now a cop, becomes embroiled in a vicious conspiracy bringing together organized crime mobsters, lying IRA emissaries, cocaine, missiles from Havana, and the inflammatory emotions of local Irish Americans. There's a lot of money to be made in the deal, but when the mobsters' $1.5 million goes astray, there is more than hell to pay. The cop, seeking to clear a debt of honor incurred in Vietnam, tries to protect some Vietnamese refugees, who also become engulfed in the standoff. Fleming weaves together these ethnic and racial themes, which resonate in the American psyche. The novel is a showcase for intense hatreds, passions, and regrets amidst so much complicated plotting that a reader daren't miss a single paragraph. Fleming's fans will want to find this in major public libraries, but others may prefer his earlier biographies and novels, e.g., Remember the Morning or Wages of Fame.ÄBarbara Conaty, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Hours of Gladness By Thomas Fleming Tom Doherty Associates, LLC ISBN: 9781466821392 Hours of Gladness A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC "M ick. Rose just called. You better go get 'im." It was Tom Brannigan, the night sergeant. Michael Peter Ignatius O'Day, known to everyone in Paradise Beach as Mick, was checking the last empty house on Leeds Point. A northeast wind was coming off the ocean, carrying icy rain and spray with it. He could see the combers lifting their white manes in the darkness. It was cold enough outside to freeze your hand to the metal skin of the police car, if you were dumb enough to touch it for more than twenty seconds. Was Brannigan okay? Did he have the tape off? All radio communications of the Paradise Beach Police Department were recorded. It was one of many ways that Chief William P. (for Patrick) O'Toole guaranteed that nobody was on the take from some Mafia slime or one of their casino front men in Atlantic City. Being Irish, O'Toole understood that there were times when theequipment should be turned off, and he made sure it contained the appropriate switches. Mick decided Tom Brannigan was still okay, in spite of having a wife who had joined some sort of charismatic Catholic group who thought you could talk directly to Jesus. She had been going nuts ever since their oldest son, Jack, got it in the Granada show. "Where is he?" "At Rose's place," Brannigan said. Even with the tape off, he was taking no chances. Three or four retired bozos listened to the police radio on shortwave sets. "I just checked Leeds. Everything's like a cemetery as usual." "No sign of the devil?" "He moved to Atlantic City ten years ago." According to a local legend, a devil lived on Leeds Point, a leftover from Revolutionary War days, when deserters from both armies caroused there, screwing whatever the tide washed up. One of the whores had supposedly given birth to a creature with horns and cloven feet. "I'll have Yummy cover for you." Yummy O'Keefe was curled up in the back of his squad car behind the regional high school. Only guys like Mick, with trouble on their records, guys who owed something for their jobs, got the beachfront patrol in the winter. Mick could practically hear Yummy cursing. It was 3 A.M. He would be in Atlantic City in fifty minutes, if the Garden State Parkway was not iced up. He drove slowly through Paradise Beach, a habit inflicted by the summer months, when you never knew whether a drunk or several drunks would come roaring through an intersection. At Maryland Avenue and the Parkway, he slowed almost to a stop before a big, two-storied house with an open porch in front and a glassed-in sunporch on the side. It had prestige written all over it, even if it was not one of the huge piles sitting out on the dunes south of town. Although the house sat in shadow, beyond the glow ofthe corner streetlight, Mick could see it as vividly as if it were high noon. He had grown up here. He remembered when its bright green color had been a defiant announcement to the WASP natives and their mostly WASP summer visitors that the Irish had arrived to stay. For a moment Mick's head was filled with music. He was remembering the family parties on the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Inevitably they ended with everyone grouped around the piano, singing Irish songs: "Danny Boy," "The Rose of Tralee," "I Met Her in the Garden." The parties always ended with his grandfather "Sunny Dan" Monahan singing his favorite in a rich baritone. Oh the days of the Kerry Dancers! Oh the ring of the piper's tune! Oh for one of those hours of gladness Gone! Alas, like our youth, too soon. Oh to think of it! Oh to dream of it! Fills my heart with tears ... Now more than youth was gone. The house's insolent green had bleached and faded and peeled in the heartless summer sun and cruel winter wind. It had been five years since the house had been painted, five years since there was any reason to rejoice in being Irish in Paradise Beach. Mick sat there remembering what had happened five years ago. It was the reason why he was going to Atlantic City. Five years ago, two cars full of U.S. Treasury agents had pulled up in front of the house. Mick had answered the door. He had been working nights as usual and he had just gotten up. It was about three o'clock on a hot afternoon in May. The lead guy looked like he had seen too many reruns of the Eliot Ness TV show. He did not smile. He did not introduce himself. He just said, "Is this the house of Daniel Brendan Monahan?" "He's not home," Mick said. "We've got a federal warrant," the lead said. "We're going to search the place." "Let me see it," Mick said. The guy produced the warrant. It looked legal all right. What the hell were they looking for? "You guys wait here while I talk to my uncle. He's the chief of police," Mick said. "Look, pal," the lead said, "we're in a hurry. We want to be back in Newark by five o'clock to catch a plane to Washington. We don't care what your uncle says. This thing is signed by the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. You try to stop us and you'll go to Newark with us--in handcuffs." "Gee, I'm real scared," Mick said. "Wait here anyway." He slammed the door in their faces and called William O'Toole at police headquarters. When Mick described the visitors and their warrant, Uncle Bill almost gave birth over the wire. "Is your grandfather there?" he said. "He's at the Shamrock playin' poker. Mom's at school teachin' the remedials." "Keep those guys out. I don't care how you do it. Keep them out until I get hold of Dan. We'll be there in five minutes." Mick came back and put the inside chain on the door. He opened it a crack and said, "My uncle and my grandfather' ll be here in five minutes." "Open this door, wise guy," the lead said. "Five minutes," Mick said. "Set your watches. Guaranteed." Mick stepped back about ten feet. Two of them hit the front door and tore it off the hinges. They landed on their knees in the hall. Mick kicked the first guy in the teeth and the second one in the belly. The other guys swarmed him. He got off one good punch before they had him on his back. They kicked him and rabbit-punched him a few times to get even for the two door crashers, who were moaning low in the corner of the front hall. They dragged him into the parlor and handcuffed him to a chair. "Find the cellar door," the lead said. "Probably in the kitchen," someone else said. Mick noticed two of them were carrying shovels. In about five minutes the grandfather's clock in the hall bonged 3 P.M. All 250 pounds of Bill O'Toole charged into the front hall in his gold-braided chief's uniform. After him labored Mick's tall, beak-nosed grandfather, Sunny Dan Monahan, gasping and wheezing on his cane, his pale old man's mouth working spasmodically. The two door crashers were on their feet now, discussing what they would do to Mick when they got him to Newark. "What the hell's going on?" Bill O'Toole shouted. The door crashers just looked contemptuously at him. Even under ordinary circumstances, federal cops found it hard to talk to small-town cops. "What the hell's going on?" Bill shouted again. "Yeah," Sunny Dan Monahan said in his old man's croak. "What the hell is goin' on?" The lead appeared from the kitchen carrying two canvas bags. Dirt dribbled off them onto the floor. He had a pleased smile on his television face. "What the hell you doin' with that?" Dan Monahan said. "I'm taking these bonds to the U.S. attorney's office in Newark," the lead said. "Those bonds belong to me!" Dan said. "I doubt that very much," Eliot Ness Jr. said. Bill O'Toole and Dan Monahan stood there while agent after agent paraded past them with bags of bonds, dribbling more and more dirt on the parquet floor of the front hall. They each made two trips. They must have taken out at least fifty of the things. Dan Monahan stood there quavering about "my property." Toward the end he started calling them thieves. "I earned that money! I put in ten thousand days and nights earning that money." Through it all Bill O'Toole said nothing. But halfway through the parade, he started to crumble. His huge chest sank first, then his marine spine sagged, then his linebacker's shoulders slumped. By the time the last bag manleft, he was looking more like a stuffed dummy than a commander of men. Eliot Ness Jr., returned and said he was going to give them a break. He would not take Mick back to Newark. That might save them some attorney's fees. He took the cuffs off Mick and left without another word. Mick sat there, rubbing his wrists. Outside the feds started their motors and pulled away. "Oh my God, Bill," Sunny Dan Monahan said. "Who could have done it? Who ratted?" "I don't know," Bill O'Toole said. "But if I ever find out, he's a dead man." That was how the Monahans, the O'Tooles, the O'Days, and the rest of the clan became $5 million poorer in a single afternoon. That was why Bill O'Toole was playing craps in Atlantic City. It was not the only reason why sadness seeped into Mick's soul like the winter chill, in spite of the full blast of the heater in the car. But it was one reason. Copyright © 1999 by Thomas Fleming Excerpted from Hours of Gladness by Thomas Fleming All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Excerpted from Hours of Gladness by Thomas Fleming All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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