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Local writer creates mystery in 'The Charlestown Connection'

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  January 12, 2012 11:53 AM

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A good story can be hard to find, but for Tom MacDonald, who runs the Harvest on Vine Food Pantry in Charlestown, the inspiration for his first novel was all around him.

His newly published novel, The Charlestown Connection, follows Dermot Sparhawk, a food pantry worker in Charlestown, who must take to the streets of Boston to solve his godfather’s murder.

“A story started to come to me about working in the projects,” said MacDonald, who is set to host a book reading and signing at the Charlestown branch of the Boston Public Library Thursday at 7 p.m.

But it’s not a classic detective novel. Instead, it’s a crime story with a different point of view, said MacDonald, who was inspired to write while earning a business degree at Boston College and received a Masters degree in creative writing from University of Southern Maine in 2009.

“The character is not a sleuth of any kind,” MacDonald said, describing his washed up former all-American college football star struggling with alcoholism.

“These are little things you just kind of sprinkle into the story as it goes along,” MacDonald said about the plot-driven story.

The character blankets Charlestown and other neighborhoods piecing together clues while contending with the FBI, the Boston mob, the neighborhood’s code of silence, and his own demons.

“He gets into a situation and has to rely on his connections”,” said MacDonald, but the character learns and grows from his amateur investigation.

For those worried about the neighborhood’s reputation sometimes besmirched by Hollywood, MacDonald, who has heard praise from residents, promises the story depicts Charlestown in a positive light

“[Dermot] doesn’t always do the right thing, but he’s trying to do the right thing. The character is flawed but likable, and hopefully interesting,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald lives in Braintree where he’s working on his second novel.

Follow us on Twitter @CharlestownNews or @JohannaKaiser.

Email Kaiser at johanna.yourtown@gmail.com.

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