A medieval schoolmaster whose students stabbed him to death with their pens—-his name lives on in the College of Saint Cassian of Imola, a school with spectacular troubles. World War II has ended, and overnight Saint Cash’s has recklessly expanded from a dozen students to 4,500. Unknown to the honest clerics who think they run the place, the Newark Mafia find the college a handy front for dealing in war surplus materials. It’s a tough scene for a green kid like apprentice mortician Moon Gogarty, even tougher for basketball coach Douglas Knox, a priest with a drinking problem who receives mysterious threats on his life. And both Knox and Moon face a powerful temptation: mobster mistress Aisling Vastasi.

In this sinister comedy, the mob blackmails a pedophile priest in order to take over his lucrative charity, The Children’s Crusade. Events follow fast: a car-bombing, a fiery holocaust, an exorcism that ends in terror, a raid on a brothel, a college commencement that turns into a shoot-out, a play-off basketball game in which rival gamblers have bribed both teams.

Alternately blood-curdling and hilarious, this is a gripping story full of sudden twists. Devotees of the thrillers of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiassen, and Janet Evanovich will find A Hoarse Half-human Cheer in the same league


X. J. Kennedy’s stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, Texas Review, Sunday newspaper supplements, Science Fiction Quarterly, and other magazines. He has written several books of verse, among them In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: new & selected poems (an American Library Association notable book), two dozen children’s books, including a much praised novel The Owlstone Crown, and schoolbooks used by millions, including An Introduction to Fiction. A Hoarse Half-human Cheer is his first novel for adults.