Running with Crows

Written by D.J. Kelly
Review by Jo Barton

The story opens in 1921, as Constable William Mitchell sits in Mountjoy Gaol in Dublin reflecting on the events of his life, which have brought him by the law, to sit and await his fate. His alleged involvement in the murder of respected magistrate, Robert Dixon, is open to interpretation, but what is fundamental is that William’s protestations went unheard. Irish by birth, Mitchell fought for the British crown in Northern France during the Great War, but it is his recruitment by the authorities into the Black and Tans which takes him into his native Ireland.

This is a well written research-based historical narrative which reflects the true story of William Mitchell. The author has invested a great deal of time and energy in recounting his story, and it is to be commended that the sympathetic and skilful management of the facts ensures that the spirit of William Mitchell and his chequered life is opened up to scrutiny. The interesting interpretation of political events and the strategic placing of these events into a contextual historical setting could have become rather a bleak read, but far from depressing, the story abounds with an energy and gusto which is rather refreshing. I began to really like Mitchell, who although deeply flawed, showed an amazing resilience, and I must admit to wiping away a little tear at the ending, which I hoped could have been different.

The overall professional quality of the novel is good. I found the cover appealing, and the inclusion in the epilogue, of a ‘what happened next’ to some of the characters is a nice way to finish. I have no hesitation in recommending this very human approach to history.