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Pray for Us Sinners
by Patrick Taylor
Forge, $15.99, 333pp
Published: June 2014

This is military historical fiction describing, with absolute clarity, aspects of the Irish Republican Army’s violent opposition to England’s rule over Ireland and England’s retaliation, which was just as violent, but usually more subtle. Belfast in the 1970s was one of the most dangerous cities in the English speaking world, a proving ground for men who lived and killed and died for their ideals; but families on both sides suffered terrible losses. 

Davy McCutcheon is one of the IRA bomb manufacturers, a natural engineer who ought to have had opportunities to do constructive things with his talents - didn’t happen.

Marcus Richardson is his opposite: an English bomb-disposal officer, publicly proclaimed dead in a bombing detonation, secretly sent to infiltrate the IRA. His handler is one Major Smith, who should have read his Machiavelli more closely.

Each is brought to a crisis of conscience; Davy - when he sees how his bombs are used by other IRA members in whom anger has shoved conscience down the stairs; Marcus - by living with the enemy, experiencing the conditions that feed their anger, and falling in love with one of them.  The trouble is, to have a crisis of conscience, there has to be a conscience present, and far too many unconscionable guys are making decisions.

This is not a “feel good” novel, but it is an exciting one, and a true one, thoroughly grounded in actual events. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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