“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Jury Remains Out: THE COLOUR OF BLOOD by Brian Moore

Acclaimed as literary novels, they are steeped in crime – but is it kosher to call them Irish crime fiction novels? YOU decide! Or … don’t! This week: THE COLOUR OF BLOOD by Brian Moore.
Somewhere in an unnamed Eastern bloc country, someone is out to silence Cardinal Bem. Is it the Secret Police, or is it - more shockingly - fanatical Catholic activists who believe that Bem, by keeping the peace between Church and State, has finally compromised himself too far? Narrowly escaping an assassination attempt, Bem is abducted by sinister, anonymous men, and spirited away to a safe-house against his will. Evading his unknown captors, he is faced with a horrifying proposition: no longer sure of whom he can trust, Bem realises that he alone can avert the revolution which threatens to tear his country apart ...

“In the novel THE COLOUR OF BLOOD (1987), Moore continues to exploit the religious theme. Like LIES OF SILENCE, this novel is a political thriller, but on this occasion it is set in Eastern Europe. Like the main protagonists in other novels by Moore, Cardinal Bem’s faith is on trial. Bem himself is portrayed as an honest, reasonable, retiring character. He is not an extremist, unlike those who are pursuing him. From the beginning to the end of the novel, Bem is under threat from assassins but his personal inner strength enables him to continue with his duties as a religious leader. This is an action packed thriller with a distinctly sombre, unexpected ending.” – ‘Brian Moore: Novelist in search of an Irish identity’ / Encyclopedia.com

“Mr. Moore’s novel is a study of this faith under pressure. Almost in thriller form, it is also a wise and illuminating meditation on the labyrinthine forces at work in a Roman Catholic Communist country like Poland (where Mr. Moore served with a United Nations relief group after the war) … Mr. Moore dramatizes issues like compromise and survival with a sure, skilful hand. As usual his writing is lean and to the point … Clearly, Brian Moore wants to keep our attention focused on the central political-religious problem: When does compromise become moral suicide? In this he has succeeded.” - New York Times

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It it's as good as Black Robe, it's a classic.

Critical Mick said...

Brian Moore amazes me. He even knew how to make fascinating the story of a little old music-teaching biddie who bores every other character senseless. That was in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, the first novel they let him release without a pseudonym on the cover.

Moore was so far ahead of his time, TLPOJH even predicted back in 1955 that Dublin's O'Connell Street would be prime location for a bunch of fast food burger joints. The authors of The Time Traveller's Wife, etc are only now ripping off titles that Moore released decades ago.

Everything Brian Moore did was extrordinary. The Color of Blood is no exception. It's too bad that the films translated Moore's stories so poorly.

Mick