by Robert McCrum

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McCrum, editorial director of Faber & Faber, coauthor of The Story of English and author of three previous thrillers, looks to his roots in Northern Ireland for this tightly controlled, very British story of two sensible people trying to connect in the unsettling atmosphere of an occupied land. By choosing not to name the countries involved, calling them ``the mainland'' and ``the occupation,'' McCrum transforms his understated narrative into a powerful fable of contemporary conflict. Dr. Stephen Mallory, intensely frustrated by his shady job as ``political consultant,'' is assigned as security chief for a mainland committee inspecting a manse in the zone of occupation. He meets Isabel Rome, a recently divorced mainland reporter, and their romance struggles against the background of terrorist activity. It is soon clear to them that neither the MI5 agents nor the Army can promise security without the aid of local nabob Joe Curtis. Previously spurned by Isabel and diminished by his family's fall from prominence, Curtis has a private agenda that skews loyalties and foments the fractious nature of those he controls. McCrum captures the feeling of emasculation that prevails in a country unwillingly occupied, eloquently channeling the resultant violence and rage. The fiery resolution underscores the mercurial nature of life in a society rent by seemingly irreconcilable differences. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Psychologically jaded by his vocation as a political consultant, Stephen Mallory returns to his home office on the mainland. Even though his track record for organizing campaigns for Third World politicians has resulted in successful elections, Mallory is ``tired of being provisional, for hire.'' He accepts an atypical assignment in which he provides security for a rock music crew who are filming a controversial video. In his fourth novel, McCrum, editorial director of Faber and Faber, employs all the classic components of a spy-thriller novel: ubiquitous bombings, murders, conflicts between military and government officials, star-crossed romance, and a plethora of oddball characters. Portions of the story and some of the characters make the ingredients of a good vintage espionage tale. Ultimately, the author fails the acid test crucial for success in this genre--to engage and titillate the reader's interest from start to finish. Not recommended.--Mary Ellen Elsbernd, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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1st American ed

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