Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Kevin O'Connor
The Key to Kells

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

DISCOVERY UPENDS EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT MEMORY AND GENETICS. IT MIGHT COST KEY MURPHY HIS LIFE. Key Murphy is a freak, a prodigy. He has visions so real he’s diagnosed with PTSD. Key learns that his visions might be caused by a mutated gene which allows him to experience the memories of an ancestor. Key also has a family link to The Book of Kells. Pages from the book were stolen in Ireland in the distant past. Those pages are believed to contain clues to the location of a priceless relic of Christendom. Padraig Collins is one of the wealthiest men in Europe. He was an undercover operative for the IRA. He amassed a fortune. He wants those pages. His soul depends on them. He will do whatever it takes to possess them. The dangerous race is on.
O’Connor’s debut is an Irish-American mystery spanning across the globe and into the past led by Philadelphia resident Cián (Key) Murphy who has an uncanny genetic mutation which allows him to see the memories of one of his Irish ancestors from circa 800 A.D. Once the visions begin, Key is thrust into a quest through the crooks of Philadelphia and Irish antiquity, via historic cemeteries, churches, and sacred land, searching for his centuries-old relative’s hiding place of a priceless Irish artifact from the Middle Ages: the Book of Kells’ missing cover, pages, and unspecified treasure.

Key gets plenty of help along the way, most notably from his childhood friend, and current police officer, Buck McCoy, as well as an anthropology professor specializing in the Irish-Jamaican diaspora Arin Murphy, who is a member of the Jamaican political elite and a distant relative (and romantic interest) of Key’s. While the story of an Irish-Catholic treasure hunt could be easily whitewashed from the perspective of the colonizers, O’Connor’s deft handling of Black characters and history related to Black soldiers in Unionist armies during the Civil War and Jamaica’s history with African enslaved people and exiled Irish folks makes The Key to Kells a novel that aptly reflects the present-day intersectional realities of America, Ireland, and Jamaica.

Key’s visions of Medieval Ireland interspersed with present-day characters and events dissolves chronological time, so lineages separated by centuries become united to work toward the fruition of a timeless quest. But these fragments and treasures are ultimately secondary to the intangible prizes begotten as a result of the search for it: unity, romance, familial love, and hope across boundaries of time, race, religion, geography, and prejudice. Some one-liners don’t land, and an erotic connection between past and present is intriguing but not fully persuasive, but the suspense is real, and readers of mystery and historical fiction will find much to enjoy in this fast-paced read.

Takeaway: Ancestral visions offer clues to lost fragments of The Book of Kells in this page-turning, time-bending thriller.

Great for fans of: Raymond Khoury’s The Last Templar, Kris Frieswick’s The Ghost Manuscript.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A