With A Darkness in the Eye M.S. Power completes his terrorist trilogy. It is set, as are parts one and two, in a characterless city called Belfast, and opens as they do with news of a killing, before back-tracking to delineate the circumstances in which the victim met his end. The current victim is Seamus Reilly, himself previously a death-dealer on a large scale - one-time head, in fact, of the IRA's Punishment Squad, and author of quite a few bloody dispatches. Reilly has come round, a bit late in the day, to a democratic way of thinking. He is, we are told, doing his utmost to put an end to 'the violence that crippled the province'. This new attitude puts him at odds with those among his former associates who remain addicted to slaughter. Within the IRA, peace-lovers like Reilly are labelled 'doves', while the rest go under the name of 'hawks'. At the start of the novel, three hawks detach themselves from Reilly's unit, deciding to go it alone. They are a short fat father of many children, a nail-biter of small intelligence, and a personable blonde referred to throughout as 'the woman' or 'that woman'. 'It's that woman I worry about,' says Reilly's Commander. 'She's the one that will most resent the power being taken from her. They always do. Women.' No voice demurs at this judgment.
LRB 23 April 1987 | PDF Download