Moving from troubled west Ireland to a Baltimore just recovering from WWI and from the apogee of the Spanish Flu epidemic, this story of Danny and Helen, on the run after a horrifying personal attack by a handful of British soldiers, manages to be both rollicking and tragic as the couple experiences the aftermaths of their trauma. Richly evocative of life in Baltimore as lived by recent immigrants to the city-- a city which is home to many Irish families but at the same time highly suspicious of new immigrants. Major and minor characters including Women’s Suffragists, Hasidic Jews, a Black dock worker, a troubled priest, a troubled butcher, a troubled detective, and the entirely untroubled teenage hoodlum self-christened ”Emperor of Napoleon Street,” join the young couple and their the twin boys to populate this fast-paced story. The novel’s title, “Tell me what I want to hear,” takes on many different meanings as the novel progresses from adventure to adventure, from mayhem to death and back—and perhaps redemption.
Stephen F. Davitt, writer and jazz trumpeter, made his reputation in the US and abroad as a videographer. Born in New York, he came to the Baltimore area to study music at Towson University and lived in Baltimore off and on for much of his life. He wrote, directed, and produced a popular documentary on the history of the very old and historic section of Baltimore known as Dickeyville. Davitt became knowledgeable in teaching spoken Arabic and Gaelic while creating the audiovisual portions of a Yale University series of spoken language textbooks. A week after completing Tell Me What I Want to Hear, he died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving behind a grieving companion of many years, two beautiful daughters, and their mother.
"A dark tale of murder and degradation, Tell Me What I Want to Hear is a madd rush of a story about poor Irish immigrants trying to survive in early 20th c. Baltimore. Fast paced and furious." -- Terrence Winch
"Grizzly murder mystery turned love story turned immigrant survival tale, Stephen F. Davitt’s Tell Me What I Want to Hear introduces readers to Helen and Danny—and their raw, intense story. Set in Ireland and Baltimore of 1916 to 1919, the couple survives trauma in one country only to find it in another. A fast-paced book anchored in the darkest corners of yesteryear Baltimore". -- Eric D. Goodman, author of The Color of Jadeite and Tracks: A Novel in Stories