Gerard Brennan is a Belfast-based author and ex-rockgod. His novella The Point garnered rave reviews, and his debut novel Wee Rockets has been justifiably compared to The Wire and City of God. Gerard also co-edited the Spinetingler nominated Requiems for the Departed, a collection of short stories based on Irish folklore and featuring the creme of contemporary crime fiction. He blogs at Crime Scene NI.
Here’s Gerard on The Truth Commissioner by David Park…
David Park’s The Truth Commissioner is minimal in action and big on introspection. Each of the four main characters is believable in their flaws, entirely human and utterly miserable. I’m slightly worried that they’re a depressing representation of modern Northern Irish man:
Stanfield – The truth commissioner. He’s been drafted in to oversee a vital stage in the peace and reconciliation process in which the circumstances around the ‘disappeared’ are investigated. However professional he seems, his personal life is far from enviable.
Gilroy – The ex-provo politician. He’s tied in to a particular ‘disappeared’ case under investigation but the issue seems to be overshadowed by his daughter’s impending marriage.
Fenton – The ex-RUC officer. His involvement in the investigation has dragged him out of a peaceful retirement.
Danny – A young man trying to build a new life in America. But not even the Atlantic Ocean can insulate him from his past.
There’s a melancholy running though the book. Isolation and loneliness seem to be the predominant feelings shared by the cast. They’re all haunted in their own way, and for much the same reason in the cases of Gilroy, Fenton and Danny. Little comfort to those who believe they have suffered loss at the hands of these characters, but perhaps a hint of a way towards reconciliation? Yes, we’ve all been hurt by the Troubles, even those perceived to have done the hurting. Is that the book’s message? Possibly. This one will leave you thinking.
As far as an examination of the political situation in Northern Ireland goes, The Truth Commissioner is a well-balanced and very interesting assessment. It’s not preachy and nor does it lean towards any particular political opinion. We need more books like this, and I need to read them. If you’re Northern Irish, you could almost consider it therapy.
– Gerard Brennan
The Criminal Classics series was prompted by a post which originally appeared at Crime Fiction Lover.