THE POISON TREE by F.M. O'Rourke

THE POISON TREE

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A lurid first hardcover about a renegade IRA unit that-- despite the promise of ceasefire talks aimed at bringing peace to Northern Ireland--soldiers on with a mad scheme to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II on her scheduled visit to Los Angeles. At 18, Billy Quinn (whose father was gunned down before his eyes in 1985 Belfast) is a battle-scarred veteran of the IRA's bloody campaigns against the British. Acting on instructions from Michael Kileen (a legendary figure in the Republican Cause), he agrees to participate on a need-to-know basis in what could prove a suicide mission to southern California. The die-hard terrorist Kileen first sends handsome, quick-witted Billy to L.A. to replace Brian O'Malley, the recently orphaned grandson of widower Major James Queally-Smythe, an aging English film director haunted by memories of his estranged daughter and WW II internment by the Japanese. While unsure precisely what his assignment entails, Billy assumes the role of Brian (who has been kidnapped in Ulster). Kileen also dispatches two equally ignorant boyos, thuggish Francis Duffy and dreamy Dermot Tumelty, to L.A. to do the dirtier work his insane plot requires. Meanwhile, charming Billy is accepted without question by the major (who has not seen Brian in over a decade) and makes a name for himself as a lady's man at Pacific Academy. His only real conquest, though, is Kelly Huston, a caring classmate who senses he may have more troubles than the average teenager. When Kileen arrives in L.A., the lads suspect he has more in mind than simply embarrassing the Crown at a reception to honor Queally- Smythe; indeed, they conclude that he means to kill the Queen and leave them holding the bag--or, worse, dead in the resultant carnage. Acting on their own initiative, they frustrate Kileen's best-laid plan at the 11th hour. 'Tis, as the denizens of a Dublin pub might attest with nods and winks, a grand tale.

Pub Date: March 11th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-80214-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1996