THE WILD COLONIAL BOY by James Hynes
Kirkus Star

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I want an outrage."" That's Jimmy Coogan, an IRA commander, calling long. distance, Belfast to London; his words herald a deadly IRA factional dispute, the stuff of this riveting suspense novel from a new American writer with talent to burn. It is Coogan's opinion that his commander-in-chief, Joe Brody, president of Sinn Fein, has gone soft in his struggle against the Brits. So, without authorization, he removes ten pounds of Semtex plastique from the IRA's Belfast arms dump; he plans to ship it to London, where Coogan's allies will stage their ""outrage"" and undercut Brody. The latter, however, is one step ahead of his rival: he orders Coogan's intended courier not to travel. Overnight, Coogan has become a pariah, but he has one last hope. His wife is Maire Donovan, an even tougher revolutionary than himself. Her American cousin Brian is due to arrive from Detroit, bringing $10,000 for the movement from his grandfather (forced to flee Ulster years before, after killing a policeman); why not enlist him? So Brian, an innocent abroad, unaware that he is siding with a faction (""if he knew the truth he'd run like a hare,"" thinks Maire), is persuaded by Coogan to be the new bearer of the explosives, first across the border, then to Dublin, finally to London. En route he meets another Irish. American, Clare Delaney, a tourist, and they become the romantic interest, although Brian misleads Clare just as Coogan had misled him. (Betrayal, bad faith--that is the overarching theme.) Meanwhile, Brody has been using the informers' hot line; Maire is picked up by the Brits in Belfast; and Coogan is shot to death at the border. Brian, with a lot of help from Clare, makes it to London and delivers the plastique; 11 people are killed in an explosion at the National Gallery; Clare knocks her lover-boy to the ground; Brody's position is weakened; and in Belfast, at Coogan's funeral, a new leader emerges: Maire Donovan. From a kitchen meeting of IRA leaders to a British interrogation room, first-novelist Hynes moves with the self-assurance of a veteran: his savvy political thriller offers both nail-biting suspense in the Hitchcock tradition, and a harrowing commentary on Western Europe's most bloody and intractable conflict.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0312204426
Publisher: Atheneum