A Decent Bomber by Alexander McNabb


mcnabb_a-decent-bomberTitle: A Decent Bomber
Author: Alexander McNabb
Available at: Amazon

I read and reviewed prior novels by Alexander McNabb (Shemlan, Olives, and Beirut). I enjoyed all of them, and recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

In my opinion, A Decent Bomber is the best yet. McNabb moves from the familiar ground of the Middle East to Ireland, and remnants of the Provisional IRA.

Is peace ever achieved? Twenty years after everyone thought a peace accord had been reached, after members had moved on with their lives, trying to fit into a new political structure, trying to reconcile their lives, the past rears its ugly head as another terror group pops up to utilize the IRA network to inflict its own damage. At the center is Pat O’Carolan, the guy who built bombs for the IRA. He’s spent the last 20 years isolating himself on a farm in Tipperary County with his dog, his cows, the bog, and a hidden cache of weapons, trying to reconcile his past.

Pat O’Carolan is a great character – smart, resourceful and necessarily tenacious. And yet… conflicted. McNabb does a great job of conveying the emotional depth of this character, letting the story unpeel the layers of conflict, internal and external, that O’Carolan experiences due to his past actions as a bomb builder for the IRA and the threat he is now under as a result. It’s rare to see a story where “old” terrorism meets “new” terrorism. In recent years, there’s been such a focus on specific terrorist groups, we sometimes forget terrorism isn’t new, nor is it confined to the Middle East. Pat O’Carolan burned with the fire once, but all that’s left are the ashes and the ghosts. I like that, at the age of 60, he’s a “senior.” I picture Liam Neeson playing him in the movie, with Cillian Murphy as Boyle, and Brendan Gleeson in there somewhere because he’s an awesome character actor (and there should be a movie!).

Pat isn’t the only character on whom the chickens come home to roost; he’s just the only one the terrorists need alive (for now). The chips fall right and left here, cutting a swathe of violence through the remnants of the former Provisional IRA. And, as is common in terrorism, the innocent also pay a price – and that’s really the message behind the action and the story. IF peace is achieved, is this how the surviving terrorists feel, how they move on with their lives? It’s an interesting glimpse behind the curtain.

But that’s not all!

Oh no – this story is action packed and fast moving! O’Carolan’s enemies are goal-oriented and brutal. For Pat to survive, and keep his family safe, he has to find a way to get a step ahead of them. It’s a helluva coaster ride, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s one of those books I couldn’t put down, but didn’t want to finish because I wanted to stay in the story as long as possible – and that’s the best place for a reader to be.

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