Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981)

Hunger Strike: Margaret Thatcher’s Battle With the IRA (1980-1981) Thomas Hennessy Irish Academic Press, 488pp, £19.99 A senior member of the royal family is blown up on his yacht together with his 14-year-old grandson, another teenager and an elderly lady. Hours later, 18 soldiers are killed by two roadside bombs in an ambush on British soil. The following year, prisoners belonging to the terrorist organisation responsible begin the first of two hunger strikes, in which ten of them will die. … Read more

Tony Bailie’s ‘A Verse to Murder’: Book Review

Maurice Burns’ cover merits study–it’s well chosen and ties into this mystery within, as elaborated by an informant. The title, a play off of the ‘murder of crows’, echoes in the name of Barry Crowe, a Belfast journalist (or is it ‘sleazy tabloid hack’?) pursuing the backstory behind the sudden demise, apparently by auto-asphyxiation, of Northern Ireland’s leading poet. The compromising circumstances unfold neatly in this e-book novella. Bailie, whose Lagan Press novels The Lost Chord and Ecopunks delved into … Read more

Manchán Magan’s ‘Oddballs: A Novel of Affections’: Book Review

A skilled chronicler in travel narratives and documentaries of those who wander the fringes, Manchán Magan’s debut novel follows four characters on the fringe. Two of them, teenaged Rachel and her quasi-aunt Charlotte, collide after a long estrangement in New Hampshire, and take off on Charlotte’s Wiccan pilgrimage to ye olde England of, as a bemused or bitter Rachel puts it, ‘Merlin and Voldemort’. After a few detours, they wind up on a quasi-borrowed yacht that lands them off Co … Read more

Book Review: The McGurk’s Bar Bombing

The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth with a foreword by Colin Wallace, just published by Frontline Noir, is the first book by Ciarán MacAirt, grandson of one of those killed in the bombing and  the most visible campaigner on behalf of the victims and their families. The book pulls together the results of Ciarán’s searches in various archives, responses to FOI requests and dealings with the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Policing Ombudsman on behalf of … Read more