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on April 26, 2013 :
In "Shooter in a Plague Year" Jim Wills returns to the Kavanagh family once again, the third instalment of this inspired series. After "A Few Men Faithful", which was set in Dublin around 1916 - 1924, and "Philly MC", set in the US in the 1960s, his third book takes us into the future.
Chris Kavanagh is a sniper for the IRA in Belfast in 2018, just a few years ahead, where in a worst case scenario the opposing forces in Northern Ireland have become more radical rather than moderate. Unwilling to share or negotiate violence flares up again. With no helpful interference from the US or Britain all of Ireland is left to fight it out on their own.
Interspersed in the story are segments about the history of Ireland, told by way of relating the fate and involvement in the conflict of several of the Kavanagh men over the decades. These segments were incredibly informative and helpful to understand the origins and complexities of the existing differences and to understand how torn families and loyalties are as the Kavanagh family does not stand entirely united behind the IRA and it demands and practices.
The author does a splendid job at explaining where the points of conflict between the opponents stand and how easy it is for politicians and paramilitary groups to disagree and find the answer in violence.
I was reluctant to delve into this book, being one about a conflict that is ongoing and has still a lot of sensitivity attached to it. Wills does well in portraying the situation and views of both camps. By taking the views and the situation to an extreme this is provocative and rewarding in many ways, leaving me with not so much an answer as a better understanding.
The book is well written, tension and plot move smoothly and the dialogue is also well done, particularly where the different accents need to be emphasized phonetically. A thriller as much as political novel this is a gripping read.
After "Philly MC" it is also a great move in the context of the series. There are some vague connections to the stories of the other books but in essence the members of the Kavanagh family are all individuals, as are all people of Ireland. By going into the future Wills teaches us just as much about the presence as he does with the actual historic information.
(reviewed long after purchase)