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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Dredge

Narrator: David Bendena

ISBN: 9781666657722

Publisher: Dreamscape Media

Grove Atlantic

Publication Date: 03/05/2024

Format: Audio

My Rating: 4 Stars (ALC)

After some traumatic teenage years in rural Connecticut, Cale and Ambrose Casey had nothing left to say to each other. Cale ran off to Hawaii to sell luxury real estate. Ambrose stayed behind and built up his construction company. Neither thought they’d be in touch again and were glad for it—until they learned of a real-estate developer’s plan to drain and expand Gibbs Pond.

Nearly thirty years before, the Casey brothers buried a secret in that pond, which fell somewhere between self-defense and family preservation.

Lily Rowe, the contractor in charge of the dredging, can also trace her roots—and her trauma—to the banks of Gibbs Pond. After a childhood that saw her and her brother yanked across the country by her abusive father, it was here where she finally stayed put, even if they didn’t. But as ambitious as Lily is, and as much as she wants answers of her own, her family also has secrets to protect.

Now the haunted lives of Cale, Ambrose, and Lily collide once more as they reunite to unearth the devastation of the past.

My Review

Brendan Flaherty's impressive debut is an absorbing slow burn family drama featuring two brothers, a violent past, and untold stories that will rise to the surface in THE DREDGE.

A fitting title and cover utilizing lyrical metaphors and similes. Neither estranged brother wants to 'dredge' up dark secrets from the past, and the fear they will face when they learn the pond that holds those secrets will be "dredged" for a new development in this atmospheric and unsetting domestic suspense. "Dredge: to bring to light by deep searching, to sort through, comb, dig, hunt, rifle, scour through the murk."

Brothers Cale and Ambrose Casey spent their teen years in rural Macoun, Connecticut. Now estranged, Cale ran off to Hawaii to sell luxury real estate, while Ambrose remained resentful —and started a construction company. They are estranged, but Cale must return to town due to upcoming concerns.

A prominent real estate company plans to drain and expand Gibbs Pond. However, 30 years earlier, the brothers buried a dark secret in this pond.

Lily Rowe, a bit of a recluse, remains in town and is the contractor in charge of the dredging, and she also has childhood trauma related to the banks of Gibbs Pond. Her family also has secrets to protect.

There is much dark family history going back generations. The Rowes, are known for their erratic behavior, inherited from an alcoholic father with a temper and Lily is the exception to the family’s cycle of violence. The Casey brothers are haunted by a series of family accidents and disappearances stretching back to an infamous nor’easter before they were born.

All the secrets and violence of the past will be unraveled in this dark, sinister, and unsettling debut as the three lives collide from past to present —1990s childhoods and the 2020s,

THE DREDGE is well-written, engrossing, and gritty, with flawed characters scarred from past traumas and tragedy. There is manipulation, abuse, lies, deception, friendships, violence, fear, desperation, and MURDER in this dysfunctional family drama.

Psychologically rich, it is a story of dark family secrets. Atmospheric and thought-provoking, it explores how family history can haunt you for life. Does the past shape the person, their actions, and their future? Does their past define them?

I listened to the audiobook narrated by David Bendena for a spellbinding performance, both moody and unsettling.

An author to watch. I look forward to reading more! For fans of John Hart, Tim Johnson, Michael Farris Smith, Taylor Adams, and Lou Berney.

Thanks to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for a gifted ALC for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: Mar 5, 2024


“In this accomplished debut mystery, Flaherty revitalizes the familiar trope of old secrets threatening to resurface with sinewy prose and well-tooled suspense . . . The past and present unfold gradually from the vantage points of Flaherty’s well-drawn leads, keeping readers on a knife’s edge as the full scope of each character’s history clicks into place. Admirers of Eli Cranor’s Ozark Dogs will be riveted.” —Publishers Weekly

“The Dredge probes the conventional American myth: the past can be reformed and even suppressed so that one can turn a new page in the American Eden and become a new Adam or Eve. The intense story dramatizes how the past always shapes and determines the main characters’ quotidian existence and mental activities. An ambitious, splendid debut.”

—Ha Jin, National Book Award winning author of Waiting

“It’s clear that Brendan Flaherty is not here to fuck around. With his debut novel, The Dredge, he catapults us right away into dark family dysfunction with tight, athletic prose reminiscent of seasoned masters like Elmore Leonard and Harry Crews. This novel could’ve been twice as long, but this author knew to stick to the plan with not a wasted word. So, remember the name, Flaherty, folks. He’s here to stay.”

—Brian Panowich, International Bestselling Author of Bull Mountain and Nothing But The Bones

About the Author

Brendan Flaherty is from outside Hartford. He went to Washington University in St. Louis, and received his MFA from Boston University, where he was awarded the Saul Bellow prize.

The Dredge is his debut novel.




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