Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lord Mountbatten Revisited

I was 10 years old when the IRA blew up Lord Mountbatten at Mullaghmore, about six or seven miles from my home, as the crow flies. It wasn’t just Lord Mountbatten, of course – he died alongside Lady Brabourne, local lad Paul Maxwell and Mountbatten’s grandson, Nicholas Knatchbull (left, with twin Timothy). Sligo was only about 30 miles or so from the border with Northern Ireland, and the Troubles had been ongoing for about a decade or so, but that was the first time it all impinged on my consciousness. I can’t remember too much of what I thought of it at the time, other than thinking it was all a bit unfair, really – I was, as most young boys of my generation were, an avid reader of war comics like Warlord and Battle, and if I wasn’t kicking football I was playing war and cowboys and Indians. But blowing up a boat full of old people and kids? That didn’t seem much like war to me.
  It was only years later that I found out who Lord Mountbatten was, and what he’d done, and what he represented. According to the IRA, the guy was an imperialist swine and a war criminal, and it probably didn’t help his cause that he was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth. By that stage, of course, the Mullaghmore bomb was the very epitome of war, in which old folks and young kids tend to suffer and die at the hands of able-bodied men.
  Anyhoos, that’s all by way of a long-winded preamble to the news that Timothy Knatchbull will be publishing his memoirs this coming August, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
On the August bank holiday Monday in 1979, 14-year-old Timothy Knatchbull went out on a holiday boat trip in Co Sligo. The IRA bomb that exploded in the boat killed his grandfather Lord Mountbatten, his grandmother Lady Brabourne, his identical twin brother Nicholas and a local teenager Paul Maxwell. In telling this story for the first time, Knatchbull is not only revisiting the terrible events he and his family lived through but also writing an intensely personal book of human triumph over tragedy. Taking place in Ireland at the height of the Troubles, FROM A CLEAR BLUE SKY gives a compelling insight into that period of Irish history. Although it is unflinching in its detail, this is a book about reconciliation that asks searching questions about why human beings inflict misery on others, and suggests how we can learn to forgive, to heal and to move on. FROM A CLEAR BLUE SKY will be published by Hutchinson to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the atrocity on 27th August.