Thursday, March 20, 2014
Review of Disappeared by Anthony Quinn (Mysterious Press, 2012)
The premise for Disappeared is a compelling one: what happens to secrets, informers and controllers when a dirty war ends and a peace process unfolds? What happens to families who are tainted by lies, deception and compromises, who want to know the truth about their loved one’s death and to recover the body for formal burial? And what would be the consequences of key players seeking atonement for past actions or breaking their silence to reveal damaging truths? Quinn places the reader in modern day Armagh and the coastline of Lough Neagh to explore these questions, showing how wars never really end, but tail away in a set of ugly cover-ups and revisionist history making. It takes a few pages for the plot to find a sure path, but then the story unfolds through a compelling narrative. This is aided by just the right mix of characters with suitable back stories, and some nice interchanges as they dance around each other, all seeking a satisfactory resolution, but not one they share. The characterisation of Hughes, with his developing Alzheimer’s, Inspector Daly, and Dermot Jordan, the son of an IRA member murdered for being a suspected informer, are particularly nicely done. Throughout, Quinn evokes a strong sense of place and history. Overall, a thoughtful and engaging read. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.