Off the Record

Joe Joyce, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (343p) ISBN 978-0-393-02829-4
In his first novel, Dublin journalist Joyce leads readers through a modern political maze as Irish as the Harp beer consumed by his tale's professional pols, who themselves are as damply lugubrious as the climate. Seamus Ryle, a bored young reporter facing a divorce, sniffs out a career-saving story when an up-and-coming politician drowns in Dublin harbor. Following faint leads, Ryle, a reluctant hero, unwittingly shapes his story's development, setting up a series of events that involves local police, the Provos and international business interests, and that ultimately threaten to topple the government. The drowned man's mistress, possibly active in the IRA, gives Ryle documents, possibly forged, implicating the Dail, Ireland's parliament, in secret moves to negotiate Irish membership in NATO for unity. Joyce keeps in hand an extensive cast that includes a Dublin police sergeant always a step ahead of his superiors, a police commissioner who bows to political pressure, a detective inspector who doesn't, and a slick American uranium speculator whose crucial role in the outcome is established but not explained. Irishisms lend atmosphere to this dense tale which, while billed as a thriller, may seem quiet to American readers. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
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