Books by Friends

Oct 8, 2020

You may know that B.H. Barry has won Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie awards as a famous Fight Director for stage and screen. But do you know about his books?

Fights for Shakespeare is one of my favorites. He describes his amazing process of creating the action scenes in many productions of Macbeth and Hamlet and provides lots of amusing stories of famous stars along the way. It’s a must for anyone interested in theater, film, television, and storytelling.


Birth of the Angel

The COVID Murders Mystery: Book One of Two

Penned by author Conal O’Brien, this gripping novel follows Artemis Bookbinder, an academic with an NYPD background, and a personal obsession for a still unsolved case: the robbery of the Gardner Museum in Boston. It’s February 2020, and a famous painting is found, along with a very dead body. Artemis, a lifelong germophobe, must navigate the COVID-19 outbreak through a dark world of cults, drugs, and an all too powerful TV news outlet. What he discovers will shatter the foundation of everything he believes. Salvation depends on a woman who is trying to free herself from a vengeful world controlled by men. The novel weaves together mystery, pandemic realities, and unexpected twists. Author Conal O’Brien has crafted an enthralling experience that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The author’s talented blending of an unsolved art robbery, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a suspenseful murder mystery created a unique and captivating narrative. The realism and characterization around Artemis Bookbinder’s quirky character, and background as an academic with an NYPD past, added depth to the story. The novel also achieved a skillful navigation of the complexities of the pandemic, using it as a backdrop to a dark and thrilling tale filled with cults, drugs, and secrets. The suspenseful twists and turns kept me guessing until the end, and the well-crafted plot highlighted the harsh realities of living during the pandemic without overdoing the drama. Overall, Birth of the Angel is a must-read for mystery enthusiasts seeking a captivating blend of crime-solving, pandemic struggles, and unexpected revelations.

This work of fiction in the murder mystery, suspense, and interpersonal drama genres, is best suited to mature readers owing to some explicit language and sexual situations.


“I think it’s important to point out that this is not a sequel, but part two. It quite literally picks up where it left off at the end of book one. Imagine a two-part TV drama with an ad break in between.

However, I soon fell into step with Artemis Bookbinder, erstwhile member of the NYPD turned FBI advisor. Book One was very prescient, as we were still in the grip of COVID and its harsh restrictions: Artemis’s character is a germophobe, so he didn’t fair too well in that climate. He’s still assisting in the hunt for a murderer, and the resurgence of evidence relating to an unsolved thirty-year-old priceless-art theft; but he’s learning to cope better in the less constrictive post-COVID world.

I was reminded how much I enjoyed the first part and, importantly, of the author’s writing talent. The conclusion was one I never saw coming, one which makes you utter ‘wow, I’d never have guessed that!’, which I always think confirms a story well written.

This was a cracking read, and I hope Artemis has many more challenging cases to solve.”

Cath’n’Kindle, UK - Book Two Review

“Thrilled to get my hands on the conclusion to this series!! It did not disappoint! I can usually guess ‘who done it’ but in this case, Conal O’Brien had me till the end. I love that this was so smart, detailed, layered, and that there were no shortcuts to a satisfying ending. This real-life unsolved mystery is the basis for an imagined outcome that brings three interwoven sub plots crashing together and I could not put it down. Very excited also that there may be a third book. Yes, please!!!  Absolute mystery fun!”

Beth Maitland, Goodreads - Book Two Review

“I could not put this smart and layered mystery down! And I cannot wait for the conclusion in book two coming next month. I love that a real life unsolved mystery is at the heart of this fictional imagined outcome, and that the well developed characters charge forward in parallel stories to (hopefully) crash together in part two. Murder, art theft, Covid and multi generational tragedy keep you on the edge of your seat. Every delicious development was satisfying in the extreme!

Hopping from foot to foot for book Two!!!!!! As an avid mystery fan, Birth of the Angel did not disappoint!”

Beth Maitland, Goodreads - Book One Review

“This is a brilliant and sophisticated thriller. All the usual suspects feature in it: theft, murder, tragedy, drugs, deception, manipulation. There’s also a dark and seedy cult (for want of a better word: the members are really just a bit deranged), and just to make it more prescient, the wretched Covid is thrown in!

It’s perfectly crafted, with varied, excellent, well-developed characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I need Book 2 to be ready and available very quickly!”

Cath ‘n’ Kindle (UK) - Book One Review