The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
By Thomas Mullen
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400067534, 416pp.)
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
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Late one night in August 1934, following a yearlong spree of bank robberies across the Midwest, the Firefly Brothers are forced into a police shootout and die . . . for the first time.
In award-winning author Thomas Mullen’s evocative new novel, the highly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed debut, The Last Town on Earth, we follow the Depression-era adventures of Jason and Whit Fireson—bank robbers known as the Firefly Brothers by the press, the authorities, and an adoring public that worships their acts as heroic counterpunches thrown at a broken system.
Now it appears they have at last met their end in a hail of bullets. Jason and Whit’s lovers—Darcy, a wealthy socialite, and Veronica, a hardened survivor—struggle between grief and an unyielding belief that the Firesons have survived. While they and the Firesons’ stunned mother and straight-arrow third son wade through conflicting police reports and press accounts, wild rumors spread that the bandits are still at large. Through it all, the Firefly Brothers remain as charismatic, unflappable, and as mythical as the American Dream itself, racing to find the women they love and make sense of a world in which all has come unmoored.
Complete with kidnappings and gangsters, heiresses and speakeasies, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is an imaginative and spirited saga about what happens when you are hopelessly outgunned—and a masterly tale of hardship, redemption, and love that transcends death.
Thomas Mullen is the author of The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut Novel of the Year by USA Today and Best Book of the Year by Chicago Tribune, and won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and son.
"The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is a rollicking and smart novel—mythic, mysterious and utterly compelling. Thomas Mullen shows us ourselves in his speculative historical fiction, and for readers who love great stories told beautifully, his books can’t come fast enough."—Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets
"The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is an ambitious and big-hearted book, as lively and full of surprises as the Brothers themselves. The Depression-era world that Mullen conjures in its pages is satisfyingly real-and startlingly reminiscent of the America we inhabit today."—Jon Clinch, author of Finn
"Thomas Mullen’s obvious intelligence and soaring imagination have come together to create this remarkable mythic tale. The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is a story that reminds us that adventure, heroism, magic, and love can survive—and, in fact, thrive—in times of economic collapse and harrowing social uncertainty." —Dean Bakopoulos, author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon
"If there’s any justice in the world, Thomas Mullen’s searing, thrilling novel will have as many lives as the Firefly Brothers. It’s a thoughtful exploration of celebrity worship and the border country between lore and despair; it’s also a crackling good yarn that never loses its getaway-car momentum. This is gangster fiction for grownups—from a writer who brings history vividly and bruisingly to life." —Louis Bayard, author of The Black Tower
"Fast-talking gents with gats, swell dames falling for the wrong fellas, car chases and hideouts in a depression-era America desperate for a new Robin Hood, this novel has the goods. In The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, Thomas Mullen puts a magical twist on a classic tale to give us just the right book for hard times. Read this book, see."—Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child
"A rip-roaring yarn that manages to be both phantasmagorical and historically accurate. In its labyrinthine, luminous narrative, reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s best fiction, readers will find powerful parallels to the present-day…a stunning work of fiction that is intense, deeply satisfying and always uniquely American."—Los Angeles Times / The Chicago Tribune
"Mullen follows up his acclaimed debut novel, The Last Town on Earth, with a mysterious and compelling romp through the 1930s when the FBI was out to make a name for itself and the world was full of poverty and discontent."—Associated Press
"A full-throttle page-turner…smartly written…a kind of graphic-novel historical fiction, where sharply drawn two-dimensional characters are superimposed on an almost photo-realistic background…Like Michael Chabon, whose Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is brought to mind by The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers’ high-wire balance of historical fiction and pulp fantasy, Mullen is equally adept at illuminating and exploiting his readers’ familiarity with pop culture tropes…Mullen knows his stuff."—The Toronto Star
"A magical and imaginative portrait of Great Depression-era America…Mullen gracefully interweaves themes of justice, mortality, and fame."—Atlanta Magazine
"If The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers were a woman, I’d ask her to marry me. Every so often I stumble across a read so mesmerizing, it makes me forget about my other literary loves. Thomas Mullen’s latest is just such a read…provocative… immersive…memorable…Firefly leapfrogs its contemporaries. Hands down, this is one heart-pounding work of fiction you shouldn’t overlook."—The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, VA
"Compelling…Mullen makes the despair of the Great Depression palpable, as his antiheroes become folk icons to the downtrodden people of the Midwest resentful of a government that can't help them."—Publishers Weekly, starred