THE CORNER BOYS by Geoffrey Beattie


Age Range: 0 - 575
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paper 0-575-40194-X Newcomer Beattie, an Irish academic (Psychology/Univ. of Manchester), portrays life in Belfast during the Troubles from the perspective of a malcontent Protestant teenager. Seventeen is a rough age just about anywhere, but in Northern Ireland even the simple things become rough and true difficulties get pushed way over the edge. James is a bright lad from a tough Protestant neighborhood off the Shankill Road. His widowed mother has a hard time getting by, but James won a scholarship to a decent prep school and has the chance to make something of himself if he’s so inclined. The problem is, he isn—t—not yet, at least. Most of his life has been spent hanging out on street corners or in chips shops with his mates, and he’s uncomfortable in his new world of blue blazers and cricket matches. So he drops out and goes home to Shankill. But there’s not much to do in Belfast these days if you—re an honest man with work on your mind, so James falls in with a bad crowd and eventually is drafted into —the Organization,— a secret paramilitary outfit that tries to beat the IRA at its own game. Things become sticky, however, when James falls in love with Shannon, a Catholic girl from the Falls Road. Unable to tell his mates about his girlfriend, he’s equally unable to tell her about his extracurricular activities. Although you can lead a double or triple life indefinitely, of course, one day James is asked to carry out a hit—and the victim is one of his friends. How far do a Loyalist’s loyalties extend? And what happens when dual allegiances collide? James has to take a stand, which means that someone will be betrayed. Welcome to Ulster. Formulaic and not as surprising as it means to be: a decent thriller with some nice local color and not much else.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-575-06432-3
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Gollancz/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999