By Brian Moore.
New York: Avon Books, 1990.
ISBN # 0-380-71547-3.
197 pages.

Comments of Bob Corbett
October 2004

Brian Moore’s suspenseful novel LIES OF SILENCE grips the reader and challenges the mind. Set in Belfast and London during “The Troubles” of recent times in Ireland, we follow the lives of hotelier Michael Dillon, his wife Moira and his mistress, the young Andrea Baxter. The IRA have an assassination plot against a fundamentalist Protestant preacher and Michael, Moira and Andrea all are involved as IRA victims in a complex fashion.

I don’t want to say any more about the main plot line. Moore’s book is such a model of successful suspense writing that it wouldn’t be a service to any who read these notes.

However, I do want to compliment Brian Moore on the very clever and convincing manner in which he weaves together the lives and personal problems of the three main characters, and their brush with the IRA. Moore shows how any such significant outside forces as a terrorist plot and it’s aftermath would naturally change all else that happens in any involved persons’ lives.

Further, Moore presents some hard moral choices to the three main characters that flow from the IRA’s actions. Moore doesn’t shirk from the ambiguities these moral questions present, including the difficulty of separating considered moral questions and emotive responses to moral dilemmas.

There is a darkness to this novel, giving me a feeling that I had with Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians, set in Papa Doc’s Haiti. I’ve read that novel a few times and have always come away from it thinking of darkness and that all the action happened at night. But it doesn’t at all. There are significant night scenes, but the bulk of the book’s action is in the broad daylight, even the burning sun of the Caribbean setting. Similarly here with Moore’s novel. It begins with an important night scene, but the rest of the novel seems to have taken place in day time, not even much in the vaunted Irish rain. Yet my sense is that it all happened in the black of night. Moore has no real heroes, only the villains of the IRA and the much more ambiguous and very real main characters.

It’s a wonderful and fairly quick read.

Bob Corbett

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Bob Corbett