A tremendously gripping and compulsive read, overshadowed by the dark threat of the IRA.
Brian Moore was born in Belfast. He emigrated to Canada in 1948 and then moved to California. He twice won the Canadian Governor General's Award for Fiction and has been given a special award from the United States Institute of Arts and Letters. He won the Author's Club First Novel Award for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Great Victorian Collection. The Doctor's Wife, The Colour of Blood - winner of the Sunday Express 1988 Book of the Year - and Lies of Silence were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Five of his novels have been made into films - The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Catholics, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Cold Heaven and Black Robe. Brian Moore died in 1999.
Set in his native Belfast, this is Moore's ( The Color of Blood ) most powerful, meaningful and timely novel, one that will generate strong emotions and diverse opinions. Michael Dillon's literary aspirations vanished when he became the manager of a small hotel; he thinks of himself as ``a failed poet in a business suit.'' Married to a shrewish, dependent woman, he has just decided to leave her and move to London with his lover, a young Canadian woman, when he is swept into Northern Ireland's daily violence. A group of IRA thugs invades his home and holds his wife hostage while Michael is directed to plant a bomb that will kill a Protestant minister. Seamlessly turning what begins as a drama of domestic unhappiness into a chilling thriller, Moore engages Michael in a moral dilemma: whether to risk his wife's safety but save countless other lives by informing the police of the bomb ticking in his car. Once made, Michael's decision leads to yet more excruciating choices, escalating the tension in a narrative that mirrors the conflict which neither camp can win. As he depicts the passions on both sides of the civil war, Moore excoriates both ``Protestant prejudice and Catholic cant,'' deploring the ceaseless conflict in ``this British Province founded on inequality and sectarian hate.'' If the novel seems, in retrospect, perhaps a little contrived, readers will remain riveted as it hurtles to an inevitable, cleverly plotted conclusion. (Sept.)
An armchair time bomb * Mail on Sunday *
This is a novel to mirror the disintegration of our times, the unstated irony of which is that a politics so provincial can breed a writer and an art so universal * Observer *
A gripping read which you will find impossible to put down * Literary Review *
Very much the thinking person's thriller - utterly tense and riveting, but also posing an acute moral dilemma for an ordinary person caught up in the troubled politics of Northern Ireland * Daily Express *
It insists on being read at a sitting, for it is imperative to know what happens next * Financial Times *
First you take an adulterous husband, then you add a neurotic, bulemic wife; then enter the girlfriend, and you have a pretty fair story. But if you are Moore you put them in the middle of the troubles in Belfast and sic the IRA on them. The protagonist, Michael Dillon, is a hotel manager who thwarts a bomb attempt by double-crossing the terrorists. The wife goes on TV to speak out against the IRA, and life gets complicated. Michael Dillon's hesitations in deciding an issue of conscience are all too real. Moore builds tension by just describing the trip home. His other novels, Emperor of Ice Cream (LJ 8/65), Catholics (LJ 3/1/73), and The Great Victorian Collection (LJ 9/1/75), to name a diverse few, have won for him such prizes as the Royal Society of Literature award and the Governor General of Canada award for fiction. A good, quick, thought-provoking novel, recommended for general readers. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/90.-- Lynn Thompson, Ozark Re gional Lib., Ironton, Mo.