Grimly atmospheric sins-of-the-father first novel set in Northern Ireland of 2017, where, despite 1998's official end to the Troubles, nothing much has changed. About the most Jack McCallan has to worry about is his somewhat insecure (if steamy) sex life, which is shared with married but promiscuous Julia Shriver (her American husband is cheating on her, the rotter!). Having taken a shot during a less than distinguished adventure in a UN peacekeeping force in West Africa, Jack is content for a time to knock about London. Then he gets word that his father, Bob, a retired Northern Ireland policeman who had earned a medal for bravery in an IRA ambush, has died in a mysterious explosion that rendered his corpse almost unrecognizable. In a thriller crowded with brooding, guilt-ridden, and hard-drinking Irish types who can't stop hating each other, Baker, a TV journalist with the BBC, holds back precious little in the way of damning details and innuendos: not only was Bob brutally murdered before his body was set afire, but several dirty seeds are buried in his past, and they threaten to sprout and bear fruit. Soon Jack, blissfully (and unbelievably) ignorant of his father's past, finds that his father, who lived in a crude mobile home, has left him enough stock in an Irish software company to dwell in luxury, especially if that company, owned by his father's good friend Henry Lomax, is acquired by wealthy Americans. Such a bequest seems too good to be true. Before long, in fact, Jack is framed for the first of several murders of Ulstermen who may or may not have had something to do with his father's nasty intelligence work. Richly evocative of late-1990s Ireland, but too many corpses—and bad guys'support an unduly intricate plot.
Read full book review >