Inheritance: A Novel of Ireland

Keith Baker, Author
Keith Baker, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-688-15321-2
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Hardcover - 608 pages - 978-0-7089-3890-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-7531-2292-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7531-1911-2
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BBC journalist Baker's strong debut thriller, set two decades in the future, suggests how difficult it will be to bury the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The best characters in Inheritance, like the protagonist Jack McCallan, lack almost all conviction; the worst are full of passionate intensity, carefully hidden behind the Royal Ulster Constabulary's past. The sudden death, apparently in a gas explosion, of Jack's father, a decorated former police officer in the now-reformed RUC, brings his son back from London to Northern Ireland to sort out his mysterious inheritance, which includes a great deal of money from his father's second career as a director of a security company. Although the IRA has been lying low, the British and Irish governments have been negotiating successfully, and prosperity seems on the horizon. Jack gradually suspects his father's death was part of a secret, bloody price for peace. Baker, currently an adviser to the BBC on Northern Ireland, establishes a strong atmosphere for the Troubles' devastating place in people's memories. In a shocking scene early in the narrative, the climate of betrayal is established. Eventually, Jack realizes the extent and menace of police corruption and goes on the run. Meanwhile, his investigation of the links between his father and wealthy businessman Henry Lomax predictably ends with bombs going off and guns blazing. If one too many standard plot devices eventually turn Inheritance into a conventional thriller, Baker's taut pacing, solid characterization and pervasive sense of place keep the narrative tension high. (Aug.)
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