The convoluted politics of Northern Ireland and the hatreds of generations permeate this fine, atmospheric thriller. In 1979 American reporter Con Edwards buries his friend Conor Larkin, a retired Irish Republican Army gunman shot on the docks of Manchester. Con joins forces with Maeve Nolan, Larkin's widow and a former lover of his own, to find the motive for the killing, which has drawn the interest of British security forces. Two attempts on their lives in England cause the couple to flee to Ireland and search for allies in treacherous crosscurrents of contending revolutionary groups--the Provos, the traditional IRA and NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee). Meanwhile, suspicion and anticipation surround the possibility of peace and prosperity offered by the Porcupine Banks Project, aimed at drilling for oil in the Irish Sea. The project's publicist, Liam Drumm, long a Provo, aids the search for Larkin's killer, which confirms the dead man's suspicion that there has been an informer--a gombeen man--in Provo ranks. Tracing the roots of the current troubles to 1971 Belfast, where both Maeve and Con were imprisoned and tortured, Eickhoff ( A Hand to Execute ) uncovers an unholy alliance as he builds suspense, its credibility heightened by reference to actual incidents and personages. (May)
American journalist Con Edwards returns to Northern Ireland to attend the funeral of an old friend, IRA hero Connor Larkin. At the funeral, Con gets reacquainted with fellow journalist Liam Drumm and with Maeve, Larkin's widow and Con's former lover. Eight years ago, the three were betrayed by an informer known as ``the gombeen man'' and cruelly interrogated by British agents. When Maeve and Con decide to investigate the suspicious circumstances of Larkin's death, assassination attempts follow them across Ireland. Eickhoff ( A Hand to Execute , LJ 7/87) creates a fast pace and a vivid atmosphere, but he strains credulity with unlikely plot developments, in particular the highly improbable candor of a police inspector with a foreign reporter. Entertaining, but not an essential purchase.-- Ruth M. Ross, Olympic Coll. Lib., Bremerton, Wash.