Dimensions:8.5in x 5.5 x 0.39 in | 340 gr
Page Count:266 pages
Christmas, 1864, in the last years of the civil war, a twenty-year-old Irish Canadian, Eoin O'Donoghue, is newly hired as the personal secretary to the prospective head of the embryonic Irish Republican Army in New York, William R. Roberts. Appalled that the mayhem he sees around him is also being planned for his own country, Eoin offers his services to Gilbert McMicken, head of Canada's secret police. So begins the trajectory of what Eoin himself calls, self-disparagingly, his 'Judas informantcy.'
Against a backdrop of fusion and collapse, 600,000 Americans dead, one nation, Canada, about to be created, another to its south in disarray, Irish militants plan northward raids to win a 'New Ireland' on the continent (its capital, Sherbrooke, QC), to split Ireland itself off from Great Britain, and to avenge reverse, cross-border Southern terror hatched in Montreal and approved by Jefferson Davis - murder and bank robberies in St. Albans, Vermont, a form of germ warfare (yellow fever spread by trunks of black vomit encrusted clothing), Confederate Robert Kennedy's almost successful plan to fire-bomb New York City, and the shooting of Abraham Lincoln.
Under assumed names, safely housed in the Moffat Mansion on Union Square (with a sunburst flag on the roof, lavishly furnished in mahogany and green, center of the Irish Republic in exile), live the secret, illegitimate twin daughters of James Stephens, Fenian leader in Europe. Who will capture Eoin O'Donoghue's allegiance - his employer, radical New York businessman and Fenian William R. Roberts (later US ambassador to Chile), Deirdre Hopper (Stephens), accomplished painter and musician and daughter of the leader in Dublin, or Canadian spy-master Gilbert McMicken, who regularly insists his protégé provide 'less poetry and more police work.'
Two spirits also stalk the book, one Edmund Spencer, author of the Faerie Queene and the Sheriff of Cork, who celebrated the flowers of Ireland and contemplated mass starvation of the Irish as an instrument of Elizabethan power. The other is Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Irish revolutionary, poet, journalist, Father of Confederation, the only federal politician in Canada ever to have been assassinated (by Fenian separatists in 1868), almost three years to the day after Lincoln's death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth.
Art or authority, union or secession, integrity or 'informantcy', rapine and war or love and the peaceable kingdom - Eoin O'Donoghue, reluctant patriot and spy, is torn by these choices.
has published two novels and a prize-winning book of short stories. He lead a small provincial political party in Quebec during the separatist referendum of 1995 and championed anglo language rights and the 'poison pill' strategy of partitioning Quebec if ever Quebec partitioned Canada, positions covered in full length articles in the Los Angeles and New York Times as well as on CBS 60 Minutes. He has extensive media experience.
“A fictional tour de force of Canada moving toward Confederation in the eighteen-sixties, told through letters sent to the head of Canada West’s secret service by a young Montreal Irishman who has penetrated the Fenian movement in New York. A superb, hugely enjoyable historical thriller, written with clarity and elegance. Intelligent history at its best.” --BARBARA KAY, columnist, The National Post “Keith Henderson’s remarkable new novel, The Roof Walkers, brilliantly captures the tensions of the period surrounding Confederation. Anyone who thinks Canadian history is dull–or that it’s all about compromise and finding the middle way–is in for a surprise when they read this book.” -- SCOTT REID, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT SINCE 2000 AND author of lament for a notion AND Canada Remapped “Keith Henderson explores the hidden cloak and dagger history of Canada’s founding during the mid-1860s through a series of fictional reports from a secret service agent to John A. Macdonald’s spymaster Gilbert McMicken, a very real personage in Canadian history. In its portrayal of the murky world of cross-border spying and American Irish Fenian insurgent raids into Canada in 1866 on the eve of Confederation, Henderson’s fictional treatment authentically goes where few Canadian historians have dared to venture.” --PETER VRONSKY, Author of Ridgeway: The American fenian invasion and The 1866 Battle That made Canada
'Despite its heavy historical freight, the story steams along nicely with well-voiced dialogue, lively scenes, mounting danger and, of course, the love interest. It may seem trite to say that all the ingredients are here for a plush mini-series: not only the broad canvas of events but also the carefully rendered texture of social and urban history (cigar brands, saloons and oyster cellars, street gangs, fancy dresses) would make a visual feast, and anything that piques interest in Canadas past cannot be bad. But lurking here is that vexed question about how closely fictional reconstructions should hew to factparticularly when they popularize a history of which so many know so little. Reading this book sent me looking in others for confirmation of details and events, and I quickly learned that it would take a well-versed historian to appreciate fully what Henderson has pulled off so intelligently in this fictive re-creation, not to mention his deviations from biography and the basis for his intriguing twist on the standard reading of events.' -- 'Less Crazy than you'd Think The Fenians quirky place in Canadian confederation, Anne Marie Todkill, The Literary Review of Canada, Nov. 2013