THE KILLING FROST by Thomas Hayden


Email this review


Dublin advertising executive Hayden's posthumous first novel re-creates the gritty human passions and longings behind Ireland's 1916 Easter Rebellion--a dense, gloomy, and ultimately captivating novel more than a decade in the making. It is early in the 20th century, and Europe is gearing up for the horrors of WW I, when British Intelligence officer Alee Carew is dispatched to Dublin to investigate rumors that the Irish Republican Brotherhood may be conspiring against England with the Germans. The IRB, founded 60 years earlier and funded largely by donations from homesick Irish Americans, has reportedly dissipated in the face of England's promise to grant Ireland Home Rule. But the somber, withdrawn Carew soon learns that clandestine activities are indeed afoot and enlists a loudmouthed scandal-sheet publisher, William Durkin, to seek out the identities and plans of the ringleaders. Hoping for knighthood, Durkin willingly betrays his compatriots to please the English, going so far as to ghostwrite books and pamphlets for them and offer his editorial space for their use. But Durkin's discoveries lead Carew to realize that one IRB hotbed is all too close to home: the personal servant of Carew's own uncle, a Protestant landowner in Carewstown, has been conspiring with the local schoolmaster and others to provide arms for the IRB. World War I begins; Home Rule is snatched away, resulting in increased support for the IRB; Dublin dockworkers rise up against their British taskmasters; panicking Anglo-Irish Protestants form their own militia; and Carew's fate becomes inextricably entwined with those of his tempestuous enemies as the Irish struggle in the face of infiltration, betrayal, and unceasing bad luck to throw off the bonds of British rule. Dark, moody, action-packed--a memorable tale.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1992
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: St. Martin's