Thursday, May 30, 2013

After Visiting Friends

Michael Hainey was barely six years old when his 35-year-old father was found dead on a deserted Chicago street. Consequently, most of what Hainey knows about his father came to him second-hand via stories and "facts" delivered by his mother, older brother, other relatives, and friends of his father.

Bob Hainey, Michael's father, truly was the stereotypical Hollywood version of a big city newspaperman. Hard drinking, chain smoking, regularly working to the early hours of the morning, he was as likely as not to end his work day at a private party hosted by a co-worker or some obscure friend-of-a-friend. Michael's mother, if she was unhappy about her marriage, hid it from her two sons. And, when her husband was suddenly snatched from her, it was up to her, and only her, to hold the family together. Despite this, Barbara Hainey avoided talking about what happened on the night her husband died for most of her life.

The Hainey men are drawn to, and have a distinct talent for, the world of newspaper journalism. Michael's Uncle Dick was the first in the family to make his mark at a Chicago newspaper and he was instrumental in giving Bob his start in the business. Now, years later, Michael has followed his father and uncle into the family business. And now he wants to know exactly how is father died - and why - something no one is very anxious to help him figure out.

So Michael Hainey does what an investigative reporter does best: he investigates the "mystery" surrounding Bob Hainey's sudden death at the age of 35. What was his father doing in a strange neighborhood, not one he had any reason to be in at that time of the night; who found him; what killed him; and, most curious of all, who are the "friends" he was reportedly visiting that night, and why had none of them ever stepped forward to explain how his father ended up on the street all alone?

It would not be easy, but Michael Hainey is a persistent man and he was determined to find the answers about his father and what happened on that fateful night. What he hoped to learn had the potential to destroy his idealized image of the father he barely remembered. Michael knew that. But he had to know the truth. Then he had to decide whether he should share that truth with his mother and brother.

After Visiting Friends is an intriguing memoir about the truth pertaining to those closest to us - and whether we might be better, or worse, off for knowing that truth. Considering Bob Hainey's lifestyle, what Michael learned about his father is not really all that surprising. The big surprise is how those around him react to both his search for the truth and what he finally learns about his father.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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