Moore, who would be the Graham Greene of our day if Greene weren't still alive, is at his most electrifying in this taut parable of Irish politics. A few hours after Belfast hotel manager Michael Dillon promises his girlfriend Andrea Baxter that he'll leave his wife Moira to fly to London with her, an IRA squad breaks into his flat, takes Moira hostage, and orders Dillon to drive his car, loaded with explosives, to his hotel--where notorious Rev. Alun Pottinger, the ""mad dog of Protestant Ulster,"" is to speak, Torn between saving Moira and tipping off the police, Dillon delivers the car, but then phones in a warning. The hotel is cleared, Moira turns up unhurt, and the police fulfill what should be Dillon's fondest dream by suggesting he leave the country for London. But Dillon's ensuing moral turmoil is as gripping as his night of terror. Moira immediately wangles a TV interview, denounces the IRA, and leaks the news that Dillon can identify one of the bombers; and atheist Dillon's nemesis, forgotten schoolmate-turned-priest Matt Connolly (who's also the suspect's uncle) traces him to London, urges him not to identify the suspect, and broadly hints at reprisals. Dillon waffles--should he go public along with Moira, taking his stand against IRA violence, or listen to girlfriend Andrea's pleas, seconded by Connolly and then by distraught Moira, to refuse to testify? This climactic waffling is the real subject of the novel, which ends with the grimly unsurprising revelation that it doesn't really matter what Dillon decides. Sharp as a scalpel and clean as polished bone--a heartbreaking book.