Dublin, March 1937. Holland, an idealistic young IRA recruit, is offered a strange assignment. He is told to guard and spy on a sinister Hungarian businessman and Sabine his secretary – a Jewish refugee.I’ve been struck lately by the number of Irish writers who are writing historical crime fiction. Apart from Brendan John Sweeney, we’ve had in the last year or so Michael Russell (THE CITY OF SHADOWS), Kevin McCarthy (IRREGULARS), Benjamin Black (HOLY ORDERS), William Ryan (THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT), Joe Joyce (ECHOLAND), Adrian McKinty (I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET), Patrick McGinley (COLD SPRING), Conor Brady (A JUNE OF ORDINARY MURDERS) and Stuart Neville (RATLINES) – and of course, the doyenne of them all, Cora Harrison (LAWS IN CONFLICT).
The mission tests Holland’s loyalties and his idealism to the utmost and ends with a sordid shooting match in a field in England. Holland finds himself fleeing with Sabine into the depths of the Irish countryside, where treacherous swamps and dense woods protect them from their pursuers. An intense love affair between two young people from vastly different worlds suddenly becomes possible.
But Holland’s closest friend in the Movement knows his mind too well, and seeks him out, leading to a confrontation as fateful and tragic as any Irish myth.
I’m not sure what that means, or if it needs to mean anything, but there may well be a PhD in it for anyone who can figure out (or invent a plausible enough reason) as to why so many Irish crime novelists are delving into the past for inspiration.