DEAD GROUND by Philip Kerrigan


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The collision course of a cool IRA terrorist and one of his victims--in a small, sturdy thriller-debut that does effective things with the most familiar suspense elements. London ad-man Michael Sayers, 27, is seriously injured in an IRA bombing at Waterloo Station--a Christmastime blast that also kills his younger sister and his beloved fianc‚e. And, since Michael caught a glimpse of the fleeing terrorists just before the explosion, his evidence helps the police to track down the IRA bombers--one of whom is captured, convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment. Otherwise, however, Michael has no interest in revenge: crippled for life, near-catatonic from shock, he wants only to withdraw into himself. So, with a loyal dog, a chess set, and little else, he goes off to hunt and meditate in an isolated rural cabin. But Michael's solitude is about to be interrupted--because when that imprisoned terrorist dies from an unsuccessful hunger strike, the IRA decides to take revenge on witness Michael Sayers: a super-villain named Temple is dispatched from Ireland to terrorize Michael, then kill him. Meanwhile, too, Michael is slowly coming out of his surly funk, thanks largely to the quirky seductiveness of brusque young neighbor Jeanne Palmer. Thus, by the time Temple arrives to begin his nasty assault, Michael has regained the will to live--along with a plucky bedmate/ally in Jeanne. And though Temple does fully succeed in killing Michael's two best friends (one canine, one human), the woodsy death-duel finale leads--thanks largely to Jeanne's kamikaze attack in a Range Rover--to a happy fade-out. Unlike the very best terrorism-novelists, Kerrigan doesn't manage to humanize or even flesh out the IRA assassin here; so the alternating focus, constantly moving back and forth between Michael and Temple, is only half-satisfying. Still, with echoes of Victor Canning, Jack Higgins, and other crisply British suspense-men, this is a predictable yet involving blend of tried-and-true ingredients: low-key sentiment, offbeat romance, cat-and-mouse tension, and sporadically fierce action.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's