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Sinclair, John Gordon - 'Seventy Times Seven'
Hardback: 384 pages (Sep. 2012) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571290620

SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN is Sinclair's debut novel and is simply fantastic! This is most definitely an author to watch out for in the future and he is a very welcome addition to the growing band of top-notch Scottish crime writers. The excellent writing style in this novel, coupled with the author's good choice of vocabulary and way the book carries you off with it, means that you are in for a real treat when you open the pages. Don't expect a fluffy story, though. The disturbing topic - the conflict in Northern Ireland and one particular family's fight for survival - and the way you bond with the characters mean that you are in for a bumpy journey through the pages. The ending of the book had me gasping and bursting into tears. It's been a while since a book has had that effect on me.

To give you a taste, but not give the game away, Danny McGuire is an unhappy man. Still suffering the effects of his brother's brutal murder eight years previously, he works as a hitman on the same side as the IRA but refuses to become one of them. An old pal of his brother's suddenly gets in touch and wants to meet up. He has news from a man, Fin O'Hanlon, who wants to speak to Danny about the man who murdered his brother. Eager for closure, Danny wants to speak with the man. Imagine his surprise and horror when he is contracted by the IRA to kill someone known as ‘The Thevshi'; an elusive informer who is responsible for leaking a lot of highly confidential information to the other side, and then discovers that this is the very man who wants to speak with him! Danny's travels take him to America in search of his quarry, to a tiny town called Tuscaloosa where The Thevshi has been hiding. He soon has O'Hanlon in his sights and the FBI hot on his heels, along with a whole load of secrets and heartache to unravel before he reaches his final goal.

Having both Catholic and Protestant friends in Northern Ireland, all of whom have been affected one way or another by the troubles, I always find this subject to be a somewhat sensitive one. However, this book not only deals with it extremely well but features some very likeable and decent characters whose lives have been destroyed and are desperate to regain some sense of reality before it is too late. If you enjoyed James Marsh's film Shadow Dancer then this book is most definitely for you.

Extremely highly recommended.

Read another review of SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
February 2013

Amanda blogs at Old Dogs and New Tricks.

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 31/01/2013 16:00