The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
The 1930s changed the lives of millions of Americans. Dreams and hope disappeared for the majority of the laid-off, financially ruined and starving victims of the Depression. In the midst of this devastation, notorious criminals began to acquire an almost heroic status because they beat the system that no longer guaranteed financial security for honest, hard-working people.
So begins Thomas Mullen’s story of the notorious Fireson brothers, Jason and Whit, who were allegedly killed and survived death three times during their bank robber capers. Reports of these daring ventures were accompanied by sensational descriptions of the police and innocent bystanders accidentally or deliberately murdered in each burglary attempt. The Fireson brothers’ background story is starkly depicted, portraying a father who may or may not have been forced into a devastating criminal act because of a failed attempt into his first entrepreneurial effort at expansion. Such efforts were representative of the essence of the American Dream put on a definite hiatus during this difficult historical period.
The tale includes many other fascinating elements, such as a kidnapping with a shocking origin and the mythology that grew exponentially with each resurrection of the Fireson brothers. Did Jason and Whit’s foray into crime begin before or after their father’s demise? Was their choice of career actually a “survival” of the terrible Depression rather than just a criminal decision? The latter is a rather unique perspective suggested with subtlety in the latter portion of this riveting, very well-written novel. The story is familiar, yet Thomas Mullen’s writing style is so engaging, one can’t put this novel down until its most unexpected end.