Book Reviews of Wireless

Author: Jack O'Connell
ISBN-13: 9780892965465
ISBN-10: 0892965460
Publication Date: 11/1993
Pages: 402
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 2 ratings
Publisher: Mysterious Pr
Book Type: Hardcover
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In the decaying New England factory town of Quinsigamond, Detective Hannah Shaw is the uncontested overseer of crime-ridden Bangkok Park. When an activist priest is murdered in his own cathedral, Hannah takes up the pursuit of a psychotic ex-FBI agent on a murderous crusade.

From the Publisher
The scene is the decaying New England factory town of Quinsigamond, a place fixed permanently on the American literary map by Jack O'Connell's acclaimed first novel, "Box Nine." Now, in "Wireless," events spin ever further into chaos. The action starts when an activist priest meets a grisly death within his own cathedral. The crime has all the earmarks of a gang killing from Bangkok Park, congregating point for prostitutes and pimps, musclemen, drug sellers, and crack dealers. In fact, the perp is a demented ex-FBI agent named Speer, who has arrived in Quinsigamond in search of the "jammers" who have been hijacking local radio airwaves with their singular brand of subversive diatribes. Succeeding to the overseership of Bangkok Park is Detective Hannah Shaw. She tracks Speer's enraged quest leading him to Wireless, the funky retro-radio nightclub and the epicenter of the diverse jammer subculture....Once again, Jack O'Connell provides a terrifying and strangely enthralling glimpse into the dark heart of

From The Critics
Publishers Weekly
As in his masterful and hallucinatory debut, Box Nine , O'Connell again conjures up the decaying postindustrial New England city of Quinsigamond, peopling its neon-spattered darkness with the weirdest collection of dysfunctional oddballs this side of TV's Twin Peaks. Police Detective Hannah Shaw must infiltrate the world of illegal radio ``jammers'' to find a killer whose first victim was a liberal parish priest with a popular radio show. The perp is a deranged former FBI agent waging war on ``anarchist scumbags,'' targeting in particular the jammers, who gather in a club named Wireless. Notable among these is G. T. Flynn, a silver-tongued life insurance salesman; Wallace Browning, a dwarf accountant/dancer and his wife Olga; Hazel, a punkette who sells herself to an Asian ganglord; and Ronnie, a female deejay whose late night show, Libido Liveline , runs on a station whose transmission is often disrupted. Operating offstage are the O'Zebedee brothers, whose outlaw broadcasts take up purloined airtime, and Det. Shaw's missing mentor, speed freak/cop Lenore Thomas. O'Connell creates a wildly colored narrative collage without losing grip of his story line in which factionalized jammers are seen as a kind of conflict-ridden family. His prose, without surface flash or affectation, showcases his characters, giving them an unexpected warmth and credibility, and lending their quirky insubstantial radio world a kind of meta-reality. Author tour. (Nov.)

Library Journal
Like many of the old factory towns in New England, Quinsigamond has seen better days. Racial tensions, poverty, and crime are the day-to-day realities. Into this maelstrom of late 20th-century angst appear the ``jammers''--radio pirates whose irreverent subculture mocks the crumbling of the American dream. This subterranean community is populated by citizens like the midget ballroom dance champs, a stuttering 15-year-old who dreams of conquering the world via the power of his speech, and the mysterious Ronnie, whose Libido Liveline call-in show makes her the object of jammer lust. A series of violent incidents by a deranged ex-FBI agent bent on righting this aberrant society brings battle-hardened Detective Hannah Shaw on the scene to restore order. O'Connell ( Box Nine , Mysterious Pr., 1992) mixes colorful characters, a quirky plot, and plenty of action in this refreshing tale that will please the jaded reader.-- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.

Readers attracted to the bizarre, the seamy, and the menacing will undoubtedly find O'Connell's latest book to their taste. In a style that might be dubbed noir surrealism, O'Connell takes his readers on a visit to the murky New England factory town of Quinsigamond--a burg straight out of the "Twilight Zone"--where bands of crazed druggies, gangs of violent hoodlums, late-night talk-radio groupies, renegade airwave "jammers," a pair of ballroom-dancing midgets, and assorted oddball degenerates meet nightly at Wireless, a nightclub catering to the borderline depraved. Enter Speer, a sicko-psycho ex-FBI agent whose favorite hobby is dousing folks with benzine and tossing lighted matches at them. Detective Hannah Shaw has the daunting tasks of hunting down the odious, elusive Speer and re-establishing peace among the warring factions of Quinsigamondians. O'Connell, the author of "Box Nine" (1990), has been compared with David Lynch, and indeed, the grotesque, nightmarish quality of his writing and his peculiarly offbeat view of the dark underbelly of society are very Lynch-like. "Wireless" is not for everyone, but it is a compelling--if bizarre and unconventional--novel.