A beautiful and elegaic novel of Ireland after the First World War
Battered and broken by three years of fighting, Stephen Ryan returns to Ireland. As the First World War enters its final bloody months, the seeds of a new sort of conflict are being sown in Dublin, with the emergence of Sinn Fein. Civil unrest and political dissonance are rife, as nationalists challenge a war in which Irish boys and men are fighting for an English king. Stephen finds himself floundering; he has been left invalided, dependent on morphine to ease pains – both mental and physical – and anxious to return to the Front, where he at least knew what his duties were. Stephen's private battles with his own despair risk both his natural talent and the relationship with the woman he loves.
Meanwhile, his brother Joe has become a fully-fledged activist. When Stephen is asked by his military superiors to spy on Sinn Fein meetings and act as an informer, he realizes that he is caught between his former loyalties as an army officer and his blood ties to his family and his country. Not quite knowing who he can trust, and with the lines between duty and murder becoming increasingly blurred, he is dragged into a complex web of deceit and violence. Stephen must think fast, as this new war will threaten everything that he holds dear – the new Ireland has new, unpredictable rules.